weekend free-for-all – November 4-5, 2017

This comment section is open for any non-work-related discussion you’d like to have with other readers, by popular demand. (This one is truly no work and no school.)

Book recommendation of the week: Rabbit Cake, by Annie Hartnett. An 11-year-old tries to move forward after the death of her mom. It’s not as dark as it sounds; it’s often charming and funny.

* I make a commission if you use that Amazon link.

{ 1,151 comments… read them below }

  1. Effie, who is fine*

    Early to the party!

    Any recommendations for petite curvy jeans? I love True Religion’s Jennie mid-rise skinny jeans and (of course) they’ve been discontinued.

    Some notes:
    – I can only do mid-rise, not low-rise or high-rise jeans
    – I prefer skinny jeans, I don’t think that straight-legged or bootcut jeans look good on me
    – I have a butt. I didn’t used to buy or try curvy bottoms, and non-curvy jeans fit ok, but curvy fit so much better I’m wondering why I didn’t start shopping for that fit earlier :)
    – my legs are REALLY short, even petite pants are long on me. I’m not adverse to hemming though

    1. Persephone*

      I’m a shortie (muuuuy shortie) with an irritating waist/hip ratio. Understand your pain. I snagged a pair of Levis which I absolutely adore and flog them to death. Downside, they are high rise (I love high rise, but you mentioned you wanted mid). I’ve popped the link to them in my URL just in case – they’re not hugely high rise, but if you’re not a fan you’ll find that irritating. In any case, I really liked them as I could pick the length, which meant I didn’t have to worry about hemming them. I also tried some on in the 300 range, and they were delish. I’m definitely intending to get a few pairs once I have a bit more money because Levis cost an arm and a leg.

      1. Effie, who is fine*

        Thanks for the link and rec! My torso is long and it doesn’t get skinny fast enough for what manufactures think women need for high-waisted stuff so high-waisted stuff digs in :(

        Ugh, why are good jeans so pricey? I rue the day that I stopped shopping at Kohl’s and started shopping at Nordstrom and felt the difference in quality jeans for the first time :/

        1. Persephone*

          Ah, that *is* a pain. My torso is average, but I lose a lot of regular fit in tees/dresses with my chest (which continues a ridiculous-to-fit ratio). At least pants/jeans are kind to me. Why can’t we have custom clothes with little effort/expense? ]

          … yeah, because it’s hard work, and deserving of good money, but still. I dream.

          Ditto though, I used to get el cheapo jeans, sprung on the Levis and cried at how nice they are. I don’t touch any of my old jeans now.

    2. Junior Dev*

      eShakti makes jeans, I really like the pair I have from them. They’re a custom dress website but they started doing jeans too baby whole back. You have to get a friend to help take your measurements but they should be able to make jeans in any size.

      1. Rogue*

        Oh my gosh! This is awesome (and not nearly as expensive as I thought they’d be)!! Thank you, Junior Dev!

      2. OperaArt*

        I have a denim jacket and denim dress from eShakti, and the quality is very good. I imagine the jeans would be good, too. Their non-denim dresses are great.

    3. Jessen*

      Ugh let me know! To top it off, I actually have pretty small thighs, but all the “curvy” fit pants assume you have big thighs to match the butt.

      1. kas*

        This is my problem, small thighs and ankles. The size I need to fit my thighs and ankles is way too small to fit my butt.

    4. Bluebell*

      Lee jeans have worked for me. In the past I also would look for ankle length because higher crop for other people = regular length on me!

    5. Courtney*

      Aw man, I saw a recommendation for pants and got excited because I came here to post the same thing….but nope, mid-rise are terrible for me. Oh well. Hope we both find something that works!

      1. Spondee*

        Yes! I love Eddie Bauer’s curvy jeans because they’re actually cut curvy, not just adding spandex. They also have both petite and short sizes, so you can get shorter legs without a lower rise.

    6. Mrs. Fenris*

      I like Levi’s 529 Curvy Cut, but I’m not short, so I can’t speak to the length for a more petite size.

    7. Roma*

      A lot of my petite friends swear by LOFT, and it looks like they have a Curvy fit! Plus, LOFT is pretty much always on sale.

    8. HannahS*

      I’ve had luck with Gap’s curvy cut petite jeans. They aren’t perfect, but they’re certainly the best I’ve found so far. In high school I relied on Old Navy’s “sweetheart” cut. I wouldn’t now, because I found that the waistbands stretched out really fast, but they’re a budget option (especially on sale) if everything else is looking steep.

    9. cornflower blue*

      Joe’s Jeans Honey Curvy Fit Skinny Jeans meet all your criteria except length (I too have stumps for legs). They cost a fortune, but I buy secondhand or from discounters.

    10. StubbornWombat*

      I’ve had good luck with Dress Barn! Idk about skinny jeans but they have nice quality mid-rise jeans ^^

    11. Stylista*

      Target/Mossimo. Mid rise jegging crop. Admittedly the best jeans I own. Inseam is about 26” so I don’t have to do the dreaded cuff. Crazy soft, pretty durable in my opinion. I wear my pair at least 2x a week and they hold shape well. About $30 each but keep in mind Target is discontinuing a lot of in house brands so I’d try some out and you could always turn to sites such as Poshmark or eBay if you really like them later on!

    12. Nye*

      I swear by Lucky Brand’s Lolita cut, and they have a bunch of different cut options so there’s likely to be one that works well for you. Plus, their jeans are available in an ankle length, which is a perfect regular length for me without hemming. They’re not cheap but they have frequent sales, so I usually join the email list when know I’ll need jeans in the near future to catch them when they’re on sale.

    13. Sparky*

      I found ThredUp, an online used clothing store when Alison posted an ad for them here. I’ve found specific brand items on their website before. If you don’t mind used, you might be able to find more of the True Religion Jennie style that you like. And there are other online used clothing stores besides ThredUp, if they don’t have what you want. I am forever in search of gently used Coldwater Creek jeans, petite, and preferably purple.

      I just requested ThredUp to send me a bad to send clothes to them to sell on their site. I was just going to donate them, and I don’t really need the money, although I could use it. They’re really backed up in the sending donation bags department, though. Still, it will get this stuff out of my closet and home. Eventually.

    14. Nerdgal*

      I have worn Talbots Curvy Cut Barely Bootcut Jeans for years. They make skinny jeans too. Pricy but worth it. I am a size 10, 5’2″ with a bit of a tummy.

  2. Persephone*

    Last week I mentioned the vaccinations for my bro’s baby – now I’m thinking of gifts for bubba. We know they’re expecting a girl, so I was thinking of making some things. What would you all recommend? I don’t really know much about babies, so I’m stumped. Could happily kit out a puppy, but babies are a whole ‘nother ball game.

    I’m also going to be That Aunty, the one who insists on my nieces and nephews reading, because my brother hates reading with a passion. Any books you guys recommend for littlies? I’ve got a few must-haves (including the one in my name) but want a few different ideas. Bonus points if you can recommend Spanish titles, as I’ve gotten the all clear from my brother to teach the little one some Spanish! Yay!

    Thanks in advance for all your help :D

    1. Librarygal30*

      Eric Carle is a great choice for kiddos, and the illustrations are wonderful. The website whatshouldireadnext.com is a great resource. It has books for all ages. You can always ask the children’s librarian at your public library to recommend titles, and they might have some in Spanish as well. Goodreads is also a good option, as is Brightly. The website A Mighty Girl has some great resources as well.

      1. Persephone*

        Ooh! I’ve never heard of Brightly, or A Mighty Girl, OR whatshouldireadnext, so I’ll definitely check them out – thank you so much! This is exciting :D

    2. Celeste*

      You could make some burp cloths out of flannel, and swaddle cloths out of double gauze. These are simple and highly practical gifts they’ll use every day for a long time.

      1. Persephone*

        Good idea! I’m fairly sure there are free patterns floating about out there. How many burp cloths would a parent need? (Gosh, I’m useless at this!)

      2. Wandering Grannie*

        Funny how things change when you cross a border. In Canada, we would call burb cloths “receiving blankets”. Same thing I’m sure, large cotton/flanellette rectangles that you can use to wrap/swaddle the baby and also put over your shoulder to protect your clothes when you burp the baby. No real point to this comment, except that seeing “burp cloths” seems such a practical term for this everyday item. Cheers!

          1. Al Lo*

            Canadian here, too. I’ve also known burp cloths to be edged, slightly thicker (or double-sided), and almost figure-8 shaped, so that they rest against the neck and then flare out over the chest. like these. Two different things, although a receiving blanket can be used as a burp cloth if necessary.

    3. Effie, who is fine*

      Baby blanket is always good. Baby hat is too, if it’s too big they’ll grow.

      I always liked “Green Eggs & Ham”, and that comes in Spanish too :)
      I also liked “How Spider Saved the Baseball Game” by Robert Kraus
      Anything by Kevin Henkes (“Chrysanthemum”, “Chester’s Way”, “Owen”, “Lily’s Purple Plastic Purse”, etc)
      Peggy Parish’s “Amelia Bedelia” books

      1. Persephone*

        Baby’s mama has the blanket game sorted – she’s the queen of quilting, so I’m sure that kid will have a new blanket for every naptime! That’s my usual go to (sorry, every single friend who’s had kids ever, I’m not creative). Adding all those books to the list though! Thank you!

        1. Bookie*

          I am a member of Paperback Swap and highly recommend it! I have swapped many, many books on the site and it is great to be able to fill in a series before I start reading.

    4. Sled dog mama*

      Not really something you can make but with mine socks were the thing I never had enough of, and a lingerie bag to keep those itty bitty socks from getting lost in the wash.
      I have to second anything from Eric Carle, my daughter loves those and keeps coming back to them.
      My daughter’s current favorite is a book called “Little Wolf’s First Howling” she gets into howling along with little wolf. We also liked “One North Star” it’s a counting book in the form of a story.

      1. Sled dog mama*

        Little Wolf https://www.amazon.com/Little-Wolfs-First-Howling-Kvasnosky/dp/0763689718
        One North Star https://www.amazon.com/One-North-Star-Counting-Book/dp/0816650632
        And some others I thought of, “The noisy Frog sing along” by John Himmelman (there is a bird and a bug version to) it goes through the noises different frogs make and the publisher’s website has recordings of each of the frogs.
        I should say that I checked all of these out of my local library, if you live close by a library card and taking your neice to the library regularly would be an awesome gift in a couple of years.

    5. Thlayli*

      The traditional things to make for a baby are knitted cardigans, booties, hats, blankets etc. You could make eg a few cardigans in different sizes, newborn, 0-3 months, 3-6, 6-9, 9-12.
      Your SIL may know an estimated weight at birth based on ultrasound measurements of baby.
      Also maybe ask in advance if they are planning on Pre-washing everything at 60C which a lot of parents do to ensure no germs, and choose fabric accordingly.

      1. Erin*

        I’ve had 3 kids. All of them have been at least 1lb off from ultrasound; it’s total nonsense.

        I would skip clothes in newborn sizes entirely. You might want to look at accessories like head wraps and bows which are super frivolous but fun. Tights are great because babies can’t pull them off like they can with socks. My girls only wore tights in winter, sometimes under pants!

        By 6 months kids can keep an outfit on for more than an hour without pooping on it, so if you want to buy something cute, go with that size or higher. I like baby gap for cute “auntie” type outfits (skip onesies, they’ll get tons). Buy the full silly outfit. Gap also has cute outerwear/layers like sweaters.

        Robeez crib shoes are another sorta splurge for parents, I loved mine. Great shower/aunt gift and tons of cute patterns. Go with the 6 month size.

        If you are close enough to the baby’s mom, a great mom gift (esp if she’s nursing) is food you can eat quickly, with one hand. Ideally healthy but beggars can’t be choosers. Granola bars, trail mix, bottled water, muffins, nuts, a giant water bottle, etc were strewn all over my house so I could jam in some calories on the fly.

        Pre made/freezer meals are a lifesaver. They might get a lot of casseroles so if you live locally, a great thing to bring is something like a taco/fajita bar (all the fixings, ready to assemble and eat), salad/vegetables (ready to assemble gyros?), that sort of thing. If you’re not close, casseroles are still great! Paper plates, too. No new parent has time for dishes.

      2. oranges & lemons*

        I always make a sweater for my friends’ and family’s babies. I always make it for 1-1.5 years, both because I find it hard to be punctual and because by that age they’ll be able to wear it for longer than a week (one of them wore his for several months). There are lots of cute sweater patterns, and it feels like a nice gift but since baby things are so small, it really doesn’t take too long.

    6. SpiderLadyCEO*

      I’ve been getting my friend’s kids the illustrated Harry Potter books. They won’t be able to read them for a few years, but they are beautiful books, and something they can treasure long after they are grown.
      Other books I have flagged for them are Rattlebone Rock, which is rhythmic and has lots of pretty pictures, so good for reading to a teeny, Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls, Interstellar Cinderella, Zombelina.

    7. Temperance*

      Be that aunty! I died a little inside when my 2.5-year-old niece was over 2 weeks ago and thought that my bookshelf was full of DVDs. (She’s Booth’s sisters kid, and his family DOES. NOT. READ. They are freaks.)

      I tried to read her my copy of “Where the Wild Things Are”, and she was like, no, let’s watch a DVD. :(

      1. Persephone*

        This is exactly what I fear little niece will grow up with. I work part time in a bookstore, so I refuse to let that happen.

    8. Colette*

      I’ve made polar fleece zip up sweaters for little ones. They’re cute and fairly easy.

      For books, Robert Munsch’s Paper Bag Princess is awesome, and I’ve seen it in a board book. It’s about a princess whose castle is burned down and fiancé kidnaped by a dragon. All she has to wear is a paper bag as she sets out to rescue him.

      1. Legalchef*

        My sister got this one for my son! And in the note she wrote inside it she said that she got it for him bc every boy should respect a strong girl.

    9. Legalchef*

      My sister gave us a basket of books and Star Wars onesies (I have 2 nephews who love Star Wars). One thing my sister did that was so great was that she wrote a message to my son inside each book about why she was giving him that particular book.

    10. Erin*

      For reading soon, there is the Black And white book for babies as soon as they can focus :-).

      Huge hits with my kids when <9 months have been Dear Zoo, Brown Bear, Brown Bear, and the "that's not my ” series. Any lift-the-flap type book is great for little guys. My 16 month old loves board books with pigs (she just likes snorting).

      My oldest is 5 and has a great collection of classics-Madeline, make way for ducklings, polar express, zephyr, Strega Nona, big green monster, the llama llama series, knuffle bunny, Winnie the Pooh & curious George anthologies, etc. we have a TON of books, it’s insane.

      Maybe consider a bookshelf if you’re looking for a larger present? Make sure its returnable and/or dogs with the nursery theme first because first parents can be prickly. We have 7 book shelves plus we did the IKEA spice rack bookshelf hack in each kid’s room.

      1. Erin*

        Oh! And where the wild things are, which they are reading right now. Who doesn’t love to rumpus around?!

    11. Courtney*

      Make sure the books you pick out are pretty sturdy – my kids (pre-k age) love books, but a sizeable amount of their collection got messed up when they were babies who wanted to look at books but weren’t careful with them because, you know, babies. Everything goes in their mouth and it’s super fun to pull on things (including book pages) just to see what will happen.

    12. Aud*

      Board books by Sandra Boynton. My kids loved her book Barnyard Dance. My middle daughter turns 11 this week and can still recite the words.

      Yay for being the one one to encourage reading!!!!

      1. Darly*

        Same here. My husband read those books to my 2 girls at bedtime. They are now in their 20’s and the three of them still will recite those books together. Sweet memories.

    13. Dr. V’s Children’s Book List*

      I have a (chronically neglected) blog about books for littles, linked in my username. (Is that gauche? If so: I’m sorry!)

      There’s also a really cute one by Mo Willems called Welcome specifically for brand-new babies that I haven’t gotten around to writing about yet that is so cute—and it makes an argument for parents about how pleasant and snuggly it is to read books with your kids, so it might be particularly good for your non-reading brother!

    14. HannahS*

      I do love Sandra Boynton for little ones. My mom, my brother, and I can all pretty much recite “The Going to Bed Book.” I can’t recommend anything in Spanish, except that I’m quite sure I’ve seen Eric Carle books in French here in Canada, so I’d guess you can find them in Spanish in the States.

    15. Natalie*

      I don’t know if this is something you would make, but I always like to give people an outfit for an older baby. Everyone gets them a million infant onesies, but they will grow out of those fast (sometimes overnight it seems) so a 3 month or 6 month thing is nice to have on hand.

      1. Persephone*

        I’ve got a few patterns for dresses and onesies in my stash, so a full outfit is totally possible. Brindle and Twig, and Tadah, are my loves.

        She’s going to be a mid-summer baby; over here where we are, we’re looking at 40ºC days as an average (apparently that’s 104 Fahrenheit?). Colleagues with kiddos have said she’ll be in singlets all day, so I’ll make her some stuff that’s a little bigger. I have the cutest onesie planned using fabric I curiously bought for myself (why was I going to make myself a jersey dress covered in woodland animals?).

        The one thing I want to do is make her something nice for Christmas 2018. However, I’ve no idea how sizes work. I’ll get that sorted one day, that’s a future me problem :P

    16. Aurora Leigh*

      I just saw the new Mo Willems board book for new babies. Its so cute and funny! It’s called Welcome a Mo Willems Book for New Arrivals. All his books are gold, but I saw it and immediately wanted to buy for any new baby.

      My Gma crocheted baby blankets for each of us. They really nice and my mom mentioned she likes the weight of them, because they were harder for us to kick off at night.

    17. Ripley*

      For newborns, I recommend board books. They will put the books in their mouths.

      I always get a copy of “Chicka Chicka Boom Boom” for newborns. It’s a classic book about letters, and it’s fun to read. I also like it because when the little letters need to be rescued, they mention moms and dads AND uncles and aunts. I have no kids but I’m a Veteran Auntie, so that warms my heart.

      I also like to get “Hop on Pop” by Dr. Seuss because it was one of my brother’s favorite books. “Counting Kisses” by Karen Katz is another good, as is “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown.

      1. Princess Consuela Banana Hammock*

        Chicka Chicka Boom Boom is the best! It was my sister’s first non-board-book, and she still remembers all the words.

    18. StubbornWombat*

      Ashanti to Zulu is a really good book with lovely illustrations, and one of my favorites as a kid. I gave it to my nephew when he was 3, and he loves it. The Good Dog Carl books are also good, esp for littles. My nephew also really loved Interstellar Cinderella.

      Re gifts, I’ve made fleece lap blankets as baby gifts before. Make them 1 yd by 1 yd and they can be play blankets for infants and lap blankets for toddlers, and as gendered or non as you want! JoAnns has fleece in a ton of cute designs, and you can either tie or sew them – I made a cute set for my friend who had twins, where one was fox patterned and the other had dinosaurs.

    19. dawbs*

      once they don’t destroy books, the books by Matthew Van Fleet are AMAZING. and they hold up a million times better than a standard pop-up book.

      Ill second Sandra Boynton
      And the fave at my house was, for a long time “not a box” : https://www.harpercollins.com/9780061123221/not-a-box

      Also older, MUCH older (8+, IMO), MinaLina, the folks that did the graphic artwork behind Harry Potter, has started making classic books. I say ‘making’ because ‘illustrating’ isn’t quite the right word. I have a lot of books, and, seriously, these are the books I get out and show off to visitors.

      You can’t really get the true sense of them in online shopping, sorry. But they have pictures, and also ‘stuff’, like pop up, but pop-up for BIG KIDS.

      And I’ll just plug this site here: http://weneeddiversebooks.org/where-to-find-diverse-books/ because it goes with amightygirl in recommending outside some of the norms that get more traction sometimes.

      And for STUFF, I’ll say that things I found super useful:
      -Waterproof mats–some general multipurpose ones that went on changing tables, on cribs, in diaper bags. these aren’t what I had, but close: https://www.amazon.com/Duro-Med-Waterproof-Flannel-Rubber-Protector/dp/B0009STNH4

      -If they register for a nursing pillow/boppy, an extra cover

      -A good diaper bag

      -A baby gate (chances are, you’ll need another at some point.

      -An extra set of crib sheets or pack-n-play sheets

      -baby nail clippers–some sort of grooming set, I didn’t realize I’d need immediately and became a PITA because I had to run out and buy it at some ungoldly hour –Like this: https://www.target.com/p/safety-1st-174-1st-grooming-kit/-/A-50882578?ref=tgt_adv_XS000000&AFID=google_pla_df&CPNG=PLA_Baby+Shopping&adgroup=SC_Baby&LID=700000001170770pgs&network=g&device=c&location=9017263&gclid=EAIaIQobChMI5YjatvKl1wIVAgNpCh3puQcfEAQYAiABEgKxN_D_BwE&gclsrc=aw.ds

    20. Continence Nurse*

      The Hairy McClary books, about a little scruffy dog and his doggy friends, and also the Pamela Allen books (she’s written over 50 and won many awards).
      Both series are rhyming and have a great, repetitive rhythm for reading aloud, which babies and toddlers love!
      My daughter’s 12 but I can still recite Hairy McClary’s doggy friends: Hercules Morse as big as a horse, Shnitzel von Krum with a very low tum, Bottomley Potts all covered in spots…

      1. Detached Elemental*

        Hairy McLary books are awesome!!

        I second the recommendation for the “That’s not my…” series.

      2. Jules the First*

        Definitely Hairy McLairy books (and anything else by that author) and anything from the “that’s not my…” series. Also Splosh! which is a counting book featuring ten adorable ducklings learning to swim – that one was one of my nephew’s favourites from day one and still is, even though he’s now four.

        A little later, once they’re ready for paper books, I highly recommend Oi Frog and its sequel Oi Dog – rollicking rhymes, great illustrations, and a sarcastic cat….

    21. I'm A Little TeaPot*

      diapers. white onesies. gift cards to appropriate stores in their area (target, meijer, etc). Offers to babysit.

    22. Aealias*

      Made gifts for a new baby: seconding burp cloths, swaddling blankets, also little hats and 15 billion pants-with-feet-in, because little kids 1) mess through their clothes all the time, and 2) pull off their socks if they’re not attached at the waist.

      Books for small babies: No Matter What (about unconditional love), Love Song For A Baby (my youngest adored looking at all the baby paintings), The Gruffalo (a rhyming book about an ugly monster and a tricksy mouse, super fun to read. Just don’t tell your brother about the videos). Oh, and Goodnight Moon is NOT my favourite, but it makes an effective bedtime book. Your brother might learn to value kids’ books for it’s contribution to a bedtime routine and good sleep habits?

    23. They're good dogs Brent*

      When I was a kid I’d read everything from ‘El barco de vapor’, a collection of children’s books by Editorial SM (for kids aged 6+). They also have books for babies/toddlers though I can’t say I’ve read any of them. I also really enjoyed anything by Maria Elena Walsh, she has a bunch of kids’ music too.

      If you’re looking for classics you can get ‘Mi primer Quijote’ and ‘Mi primer Cid’ by José María Plaza and also ‘Platero y yo’ by Juan Ramón Jiménez.

    24. Anono-me*

      ‘The snowy day’ by Ezra Jack Keats.

      The waterproof flannel crib blankets are wonderful on their own, but the edges can get a little stiff and scratch, so if you add a bit of soft blamed edging They become even better.

    25. Amey*

      I’d get loads of board books – loads of books are available in board book editions and I think it’s really valuable for the baby to be able to play with, look at and chew on their books even before they can read them. I love Julia Donaldson/Axel Scheffler books – they’re wonderful to read and beautifully illustrated. My son loved looking at them and listening to them from very young even though the stories were too complex for him until he was over a year. The Gruffalo is the famous one but I also love Tiddler, Charlie Cook’s Favourite Book and The Highway Rat, to name a few.

      1. Bibliovore*

        Board books for babies. These are my go-tos for my new mom gift basket.
        Moo Baa LaLaLA by Sandra Boynton
        Baby Goes Beep by Rebecca O’Connell and Ken Wilson Max
        I Kissed the Baby by Mary Murphy
        Dear Zoo by Rod Cambell
        Time for bed by Mem Fox and Jane Dyer
        Global Babies
        Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers and Marla Frazee
        More More More said the Baby by Vera B. Williams
        Ten Nine Eight by Molly Bang
        Peek a boo morning by Rachel Isadora
        Diggers Go by Steve Light
        Everything Book by Denise Fleming
        The Very Hungry Caterpillar Board book – March 23, 1994
        by Eric Carle
        First story book
        Yummy: Eight Favorite Fairy Tales by Lucy Cousins
        I second Tails for a little older.

        And of course every household needs good night moon.

    26. Half and Half*

      You’re gonna be the awesome aunt that brings books! I love it. Books are my go to baby gift. All kids, really. My own kids loved being read to every night, at least two books each. This was because I wanted them to love certain books as much as I did, so that’s what I would pick, but they had their own favorites. I tried to get them to love Dr. Seuss books, and books like I’ll Love You Forever, but no go. We ended up having some shared book love (Harry Potter and anything by Roald Dahl, for example), but they really liked to pick books out themselves as toddlers and beyond. We tolerated each other’s choices and often learned to love each other’s book picks. And we still share books!

      My favorite book that has some Spanish in it is called The Old Man and His Door by Gary Soto. Soto has many others that are good, but this is my fave. Target has a pretty good book section of old favorites (Good Night Moon, for example) but you can’t beat Amazon for specific subjects, or something with the child’s name, or a hard cover book when you can only find the soft cover, etc..

      Have fun!

    27. I Love Reading*

      My go-to book for babies and toddlers is “Where’s Spot” because I loved it when I was that age!

    28. Sparky*

      Go Dogs, Go! is my favorite children’s book, and there is a Spanish version available, Ve Perros, Ve! When someone has a baby I always give them this books.

  3. anon today*

    So, I’ve always been pretty firm about refusing to pay for movies or watch TV shows with celebrities who have done abusive, bigoted, or sketchy things. That number was pretty large already, but after the past month or so, it’s become so ridiculously high (but not surprising). It’s caused me to miss out on some popular TV shows or big franchises (like MCU, DCEU, etc.) and even movies that I would have seen if not for one actor who I refuse to give money to.

    Anyone else refuse to pay or watch things from certain actors/directors/writers? I don’t hold it against people who still enjoy or pay for these movies or TV shows, but I do find a lot of people don’t understand why I won’t pay or watch them.

    1. Persephone*

      Woody Allen. 1, don’t see the appeal. 2, skeeved out with his nonsense. I feel like there are some others, but I’m having trouble remembering names.

      1. Foreign Octopus*


        I’ve never seen a Woody Allen film and with everything I’ve learnt about him over the years, I’ll never watch a movie by him. Roman Polanski is another. Johnny Depp. Kevin Spacey now.

        Like you say. There are some others (too, too many) but I forget their names.

        With everything that’s coming out, I feel utterly exhausted by what people have to put up with on a daily basis, and it makes me angry that so many people have to come forward before the accusations are taken seriously.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          I should also say that I’ll never, ever buy or even listen to anything by Chris Brown. I’m furious that his actions haven’t had any long-term consequences.

          1. Persephone*

            YES. I’m like Elizabeth, though. It’s easy to avoid him for me.

            My brother used to listen to him constantly, but stopped after I lectured him constantly.

    2. Purple snowdrop is finally free*

      I’ve never really avoided stuff like this. But given that I’ve just left an abusive relationship, and given that actually, I can now decide to avoid stuff like that? I think I might now put my money where my mouth is.

    3. Effie, who is fine*

      I never got into Joss Whedon and now I’m thankful I didn’t and furthermore refuse to. This is very surprising to many people in my social group. I think it’s especially insidious among geek social fallacy carriers because it feels exclusive and there’s such a strong desire not to ostracize people…

      Below is a vent:
      It’s frustrating when people say that even though the artist is bad, doesn’t mean the art is. Or another version, love the sinner, hate the sin. I don’t want to support horrible people with my wallet; my resources are limited enough as it is. I also don’t go around shoving my beliefs down other people’s throats. But when you express your opinion on entertainment, especially music, people feel like you’re attacking them even when you’re just trying to explain why you do things the way you do.

      1. Cristina in England*

        Oh Joss Wheedon too?? I have had to take a break from the news as it was becoming too much. I will never see a Woody Allen or Roman Polanski movie, and I do not buy the line about the artist vs the art. Not while the artist is still living and reaping the benefits of their horrible behavior anyway!

        1. Emily*

          To the best of my (incomplete) knowledge, he hasn’t sexually assaulted anyone. There are a few instances downthread of him not being a great person, though – he treated one of his actresses very badly when she got pregnant, he cheated on his wife multiple times over many years, etc. I think that the problem with Joss Whedon in particular is that he loudly proclaims himself a feminist, but frequently makes choices (both in writing and in real life) that don’t stand up to his supposed feminist ideals.

          I like Buffy and I like Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (although I wish he had given the main female character more development), but I haven’t been very interested in most of his recent stuff, and I do think my view of him as a person has colored my view of some of his work.

      2. Thlayli*

        I just googled it and can’t find anything saying Joss did something abusive? Plenty about him having an affair and lots of think pieces about how he’s not feminist enough but nothing about actual abuse. What did he do?

        1. Caledonia*

          See this is the other thing – misinformation.

          Plenty of people have had affairs both celebrities and real, normal people like us. I would think it very difficult to avoid everyone.

        2. Shayland*

          I’m really upset by the way he treated Cordelia’s actor when she got pregnant. That’s the big thing for me.

          1. Foreign Octopus*

            Me too!

            For a man who styles himself a feminist writer, the way he treated Charisma Carpenter when she got pregnant was awful. It’s not a difficult thing to write around pregnancy. People do it all the time. On Grey’s Anatomy, when the actress who plays Amelia Shepherd was pregnant, they gave her a large bag (hilariously large) and stuck her behind surgery tables and the like.

            It really did turn me off him then, although I can still enjoy Buffy for what it is.

            1. Monsters Of Men*


              When Melissa Fumero was pregnant, the character Amy Santiago literally goes undercover as a pregnant woman. They had Chelsea Peretti (Gina Linetti) get hit by a bus and “recover.” Also, in Scandal, they covered up Kerry Washington’s pregnancy fairly well.

        3. The Person from the Resume*

          I’ll just say the Joss Whefon stuff in a month or two old. I think it broke before Harvey W news hit the fan. And IIRC the problem is he claims to be a feminist (and made a lot of money on the back of that) and he’s really not.

          1. anon today*

            There were rumors about him being not-so-feminist as far back as Buffy. The way he treated Charisma Carpenter was a big turning point for some people.

            Part of the big problem is that when all this came out, he blamed the women for his infidelity and said he couldn’t help it because they were “needy” and “aggressive” and what was he supposed to do when he was surrounded by young, attractive women?

            A lot of people started having a problem with the way he wrote women when Dollhouse came out, and then when he did the Avengers.

      3. Shayland*

        Oh my god yes.

        I did end up watching Buffy and Firefly is on my list, but I can easily enough get both those things without paying for them. However, none of his recent stuff holds any int rest for me. While something like Doll House has a really interesting premise the execution is just terrible.

        I also fought with my sister so much about it because she’s a huge fan of his work but also has a very hard time shutting up about the things she’s passionate about. So we’d get into all these fights where she’d try to tell me about something recent he made and I’d just reiterate the shit stuff he’s done and the fact that he’s really not a feminist, at least not anymore, and she’d say I’m trying to ruin it for her and on and on.

        Ugh. Anyway, that’s my vent.

        1. Colette*

          The thing is, there’s no absolute truth about this, and no one is all terrible. Your sister can look at what she’s heard and evaluate it differently than you. All nagging her about it will do is wreck your relationship with her.

        2. Colette*

          Also, IMO if you want to watch something, you pay for it. Watching it for free (stealing) is wrong. Don’t want your money to go it? Don’t watch it.

          1. Christy*

            It’s not stealing if you borrow from the library or the DVDs from a friend. But overall I definitely agree.

            1. Colette*

              Agreed. There are legitimate ways to view things without directly paying – but a lot of people justify illegally downloading stuff based on things like “I don’t want my money to go to that person”, and that’s not ok.

        3. Shayland*

          Um… Colette? It’s my sister who needs to learn to stop pestering people who dislike something and nagging them to give it another try.

          Im also talking about getting it from the library. I think you’re being unnecessarily harsh because of your passion for Joss. And, to an extent, doing exactly what my sister does.

          1. Colette*

            Getting it from the library still supports it.

            I don’t care about Joss one way or the other. But based on your description, your sister tries to tell you about something recent he made and, instead of saying “I’m glad you like it, but I’ve decided it’s not for me”, you “reiterate the shit stuff he’s done and that he’s not really a feminist”. That’s a pretty good way to make sure your sister decides not to talk to you about stuff she’s excited about – and that’s a short step to her deciding not to talk to you much at all.

            1. Shayland*

              Maybe the first two or three times I’ll do that. But you’re really not listening to the part where my sister is crap at social queues.

                1. Cristina in England*

                  I am not sure if this is a genuine question or not since your other posts in this thread are all terse and only questioning someone’s specific word choice, and nitpicking language is against the comment rules here so please stop that. If this is in fact a genuine question, Shayland meant “social cues” as in non-verbal signs, in this case signalling that her sister has been talking for too long about a subject the listener is not really interested in.

                2. This Daydreamer*

                  Social cues are body language and “polite” wording. All the ways we try to communicate something, sometimes without being conscious of what we are doing/saying, without specifically saying what we mean out loud. Everything from crossing your arms to changing the subject.

      4. Beatrice3*

        I just googled it and am kind of crushed… I LOVED Buffy and the Avengers and all of that. And all the people saying that they knew he was a fake feminist, why did you ever like him, etc. is not really helpful. I never thought he was perfect, but he’s a great writer and I truly believe he contributed to making geek culture less sexist. Obviously loads of people in Hollywood have affairs, but it’s hard to respect someone who accepted a lot of positive media attention for feminist writing and then find out that he probably was awful to his wife for a long time.

        1. Emac*

          I was also really turned off by an interview I read of him talking about casting the part of Tara in Buffy. He said that he had dismissed Amber Benson as a possibility after she first auditioned because she didn’t have the body type that he envisioned – he was thinking of a woman who was tiny and bird-like (or something like that) – but that another producer convinced him to audition her again. That just did not sit well with me.

      5. oranges & lemons*

        I’m of two minds on this. I actually do believe in separating the artist from the art to some extent, and am willing to tolerate a certain amount of questionable morals in books, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to read very much at all (I say books in particular because I’m much more interested in books than TV or movies, so it’s easier for me to skip the latter). I’ve read and loved a lot of classic literature so I guess it’s a bit of a defense mechanism.

        On the other hand, it does depend on the awfulness of the person and also how much “they” seem to be present in the work. I can’t watch Woody Allen’s stuff because I think he is disgusting and he is so omnipresent in his movies. On the other hand I am able to read Ender’s Game, even as an LGBT person, because I don’t see anything of the author’s horrible beliefs in the book (and I bought it before I knew anything about him, so I can re-read it without supporting him further). It’s hard to be totally black and white with art, so it’s interesting where everyone’s own limits are.

        1. Ann O.*

          Yes, I believe strongly in separating the art from the artist to the point where I’m dismayed seeing the snark about it. I believe in separating ideas from the philosopher, too. I think history and the present are full of beautiful art and important ideas coming from flawed-to-genuinely-horrible people.

          But I do also try not to financially support terrible people. I consider that a separate issue from art/artist, although there’s an overlap in practical terms for me. So I will boycott a new Johnny Depp starring movie; I didn’t watch various seasons of Dancing with the Stars because of certain contestants; but I’m not going to drive myself mad trying to be a perfect purist about this either.

        2. paul*

          That’s about where I am.

          I *am* less likely to directly pay money for work by someone I really have problems with, but I’ll still watch, for example, Chinatown if it’s on TV since I’m not directly paying for it and I’m not a Nielsen household.

        3. This Daydreamer*

          For a lot of things, I simply can’t separate. Ender’s game was a revelation for me but now the thought of reading it makes me feel sick. NOT judging you, just sharing my experience. There are so many worthwhile things in that book, so many messages we should all hear, but I can’t ignore the hate that the author feels. It’s like trying to eat my favorite food when the room reeks of cat crap and skunk.

          1. oranges & lemons*

            Yeah, I think it’s a very personal thing! There are some works that I feel that way about, and others that I don’t. For me it usually depends on the work itself and how much of the author’s gross beliefs are in it. Ender’s Game is a weird one, because the message of the book itself is tolerance.

      6. neverjaunty*

        Oh yes, the “I separate the art from the artist”. Which always comes from people who are big fans of a particular artist.

    4. Al Lo*

      I do let that impact my consumption choices, but I also choose to prioritize what I support over what I avoid when they’re in conflict. I can’t think of a specific example off the top of my head, but if there’s something that I want to put my money where my mouth is on the other end of the spectrum — a specific person whose work I want to support, a trend I want to see continue (for instance, a romantic lead of colour, a woman in the director’s chair, a storyline I think is important), or whatever, I’ll prioritize that if the two are in conflict.

      If there’s both good and bad in the same project, and I would make a point of consuming it for the good, I’ll often still do that, rather than penalize it all because of the bad. If that makes sense. I wish that the strong projects that I want to support didn’t employ problematic people that I don’t want to support, but sometimes, the two are in the same place.

      If only you could designate what part of the project you wanted your box office contribution to go to… ;)

      1. Overeducated*

        I approach it this way too. I don’t so much have an “avoid list” as I try to support underrepresented perspectives in my media consumption.

      2. anon today*

        Yes. I made a point this year to only go see movies that starred or were written/directed/produced by POC or women. So nothing written/directed/starring (as the main character) heterosexual white men. Sure, I’ve missed a lot of the big movies of the year, but it’s really broadened my horizons and opened up a lot of doors to movies I wouldn’t have heard of otherwise.

      3. Elizabeth West*

        I think this is where I fall. Yes, Joss Whedon sucks, but there are enough good people (at least as far as I know) in the Avengers that I don’t really want to penalize them because of him.

        1. anon today*

          Honestly, a good number of the MCU actors are the reason why I won’t watch a lot of Marvel movies anymore. Some of the white dudes they cast have said or done some racist, homophobic, or misogynistic things. Robert Downey Jr is at the top of the list.

          1. Elizabeth West*

            As I said below, I can’t boycott everything, and I enjoy those movies and characters. However, I like your strategy of making a point to see more stuff made by POC and women. I too shall make more of an effort.

            I’m hoping all this discussion doesn’t just die down and it starts to actively change some attitudes, definitely in Hollywood but also across the board. Given how entrenched they are, it will be difficult. I know I talked shit when I was much younger and didn’t fully realize how shitty it was. And I grew up in an atmosphere of internalized misogyny that’s been really hard to shake, even now.

            Maybe some of those men will wake up, especially now that they’re getting called out on it with actual consequences.

    5. Anon for this*

      Are we talking based on their character/lack thereof, or personal preference? While I have nothing against either Angelina Jolie or Tom Hanks, I won’t watch either of them. I just … find them annoying and don’t like them, though I’m fully aware they have talent.

    6. kas*

      I stopped watching a reality show I really liked because of the host/producer of the show. I think he’s irritating in real life and I cannot stand many of the things he’s done outside of the show so I’ll never watch/support anything he does.

      I tried to stop supporting an artist because of something he did in his personal life. I stopped listening to his music for 2 years but it was hard not to listen to his music again because I was such a huge fan before the incident.

    7. Lizabeth*

      Wait until your local library has the movies you don’t wait to play to see and check them out for free.

        1. Indoor Cat*

          Sure, but very, very indirectly. I feel like if watching things from the library is a middle ground that suits Lizabeth, that can be an empowering choice to make, especially in a context where forgoing a favorite series entirely is more emotionally painful than giving money to a creator she doesn’t want to.

          Look at it this way: a library pays 40% price for a DVD. So, let’s say a DVD is $10 (current price of Pirates of the Carribbean). The library pays $4. Let’s say it gets checked out by 120 people, including Lizabeth, before it has to be replaced after, say, five years .

          So, she “pays” $0.03 to Disney (and thus everyone who worked on the PotC series– IMDB lists 241 cast and crew members, one of whom is Depp) when she checks out the DVD from the library. Now, royalties are weighted, but even if one assumes that Depp makes twice the average crew / cast on royalties, when Lizabeth checks the DVD out from the library, she gives Johnny Depp $0.0001.

          Except even that’s not exactly right! Because while at the library, she also checks out a bunch of books, which are more in line with her beliefs. The average taxpayer “spends” $38 / year at a library, while the average library has 18,000 books and DVDs. Which means every taxpayer is responsible for much, much less than one cent towards any given book, DVD, CD, or service.

          When Lizabeth gets movies at the library, she is either hardly supporting the actor’s work, or not at all. I feel strongly that black-or-white ethical standards (in this case, one where there is no middle ground between watching a movie and supporting the choices of the actors in it, and refusing to watch a movie entirely in order to wholly condemn the actor’s actions) always make a problem worse, because very few people are going to be willing or able to take the extreme stance. Black-and-white ethics leads to backlash.

          Tl;dr, it’s totally okay for “get movies from the library” to be a reasonable middle ground, and middle ground is not a bad thing in this context.

      1. anon today*

        Nah. It’s still indirectly supporting those actors and it’s not like my life is ruined because I refuse to watch movies with Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr or Jared Leto, etc. There are still plenty of other things to see that don’t have actors who’ve done or said awful things.

    8. Hellanon*

      Tom Cruise. Woody Allen. There are a couple of others, but yes, there are definitely actors/directors whose work I flat-out refuse to support.

    9. HannahS*

      Yeah. Gendered violence and violence to children isn’t something I can forgive-and-forget in an artist, and same with violent racism and homophobia. Like, WTF Mark Wahlberg? Even intense political views I disagree with get in the way of me enjoying someone’s work. I watch them perform and all I can think about is how much I don’t like them. A mis-speak, OK, no one is 100% woke or articulates their thoughts perfectly and if their apology seems genuine and indicative of actual learning, I’ll let it go.

      I’m real disappointed in Johnny Depp, because I LOVED Pirates of the Caribbean. I owned the first one (the only one worth watching, IMO) and I remember being home, really sick, and just watching it something like nine times in a row.

    10. buttercup*

      Same here. Not movie related, but I refuse to listen to anything by Chris Brown, or just to any songs that are skeevy in general. I’m also boycotting Woody Allen, though I did watch “Midnight in Paris” before I learned about his scandal and hate to admit that I actually liked it.

      This gets tricky because entire media conglomerates are led by these types of skeevy men. Hopefully, these issues get resolved at their root and there will be less horrible directors and actors to boycott.

    11. JD*

      My mother has always hated Fleetwood Mac. She grew up in the 70s. One day I asked her why and she said “because she did drugs”. I giggled and told her “mom, if you don’t listen to any music from your decade because people did drugs then you wouldn’t have anything to listen to!” She cracked up. I agree on avoiding paying for things with actors whose actions I disagree with but my $10 isn’t going to end that actors career and at this point I’d have nothing to watch.

    12. Elizabeth West*

      I can’t just boycott everything, as much as I’d like to. I have to be choosy sometimes. But there are a few people whose personal bullshit has interfered with my enjoyment of their work to the point where I don’t really enjoy it anymore. If they had drug problems or whatever, that isn’t enough to make me abandon them unless they are abusive.

      –Woody Allen. Yuk.
      –Kirk Cameron.
      –Tom Cruise and John Travolta.
      –Mel Gibson, eww.
      –Scott Adams. I threw out all my books, which fortunately I bought secondhand. Like, actually trashed them in the bin. I can’t read Dilbert anymore either.
      –Kevin Spacey now. His gay deflection pissed me off royally.

      There are also several celebs I liked as a teenager who are maniacal Orange supporters now and I can’t even look at them. But they’re doing really stupid stuff I don’t care about, so it’s easy to avoid them.

      1. Persephone*

        That deflection peeved me off. “Ah, the people won’t care about my history of abuse if I casually tell them I’m gay! It’s a win win!”
        Get outta here, Spacey.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          Not only that, it dredged up that old bullshit about being gay automatically making you a child molester. A relative loooooves him–I wonder what she’s thinking now. If she defends him, I’m going to give her the rough side of my tongue. But she also likes Bill Maher, and I can’t stand him. I prefer John Oliver. Please do not tell me bad things about John Oliver.

          1. Persephone*

            If I hear bad things about David Tennant and John Oliver, I’m officially turning into a recluse with many dogs who yells about terrible men all day long.

            … not really much different from my current reality, just involves more yelling.

    13. StubbornWombat*

      I have what I call the “Card-Rothfuss line” – ie, how far an author has to go before I nope out of there. Orson Scott Card wants queer people like me to not exist, so he doesn’t get any of my money. Rothfuss…..book 2 of the Kingkiller Chronicle handled sexual assault in a way that makes me skip that section of the book when I reread it and I wish men being assaulted by women was treated more seriously in fiction, but he is a nice guy and I do support his work even though that aspect of The Wise Man’s Fear is something I really hate to see in fiction(and I feel conflicted about how much he supports Heifer Project given the issues with that nonprofit). Jim Butcher on the other hand keeps treating sexual assault ham-handedly and the racism in his books is just too much, so he’s a massive nope. Tamora Pierce and her blatant ableism feels like a betrayal given how important her books were to me growing up, but after she tried to get the reader to empathize with a character who wanted to kill his disabled child, and then her own private comments re mental health issues….nope. JK Rowling has also crossed the line with her recent comments re trans people.

      It can be difficult, but on the other hand, there are authors out there like Ursula Vernon, Seanan McGuire, Nnedi Okorafor, Sarah Kuhn, Mark Oshiro…all doing really good stuff. So I view it as sticking to authors who do write good works. It’s totally understandable to set your boundaries like that.

    14. Lissa*

      Very rarely, to be honest, though I do understand why you and others are more strict. I don’t think of it as boycotting because it’s generally not literally about “I won’t give this person my money.” Basically for me it’s when I’ve either heard so much about them that I can’t separate it, or when I can see the negative attitudes in the work itself. I’m also more likely to nope away from an author because it’s less collaborative than a movie, but I feel like with most movies there’s going to be at least one person involved who’s done something sketch. Or maybe I’m just getting cynical. But it’s definitely based on an emotional reaction for me. NO way could I enjoy old Cosby Show episodes now even though it’s not like me watching it would contribute financially if I like, had it on old DVDs or something (I don’t, I don’t even know if that’s a thing).

      1. HannahS*

        Yeah, same. It’s not that I refuse to re-watch on principle (usually), it’s because my disgust for the person extends to their work.

    15. Fiennes*

      I sympathize with this viewpoint…but I will sometimes continue watching the work of someone whose actions I disapprove of. Mostly this is because I realize that for any celebrity ugliness I do know, probably there are 35 I don’t. It’s depressing but true. Still, we each have to find our own boundaries on this.

    16. Town Gossip Monger*

      I kind of hate to admit it, but I used to like Woody Allen, especially his old standup routines from the 1960s which were pretty good. Sample line:

      “My ex-wife was a philosophy major at NYU. Yeah, she and I used to have deep philosophical discussions where she would prove that I didn’t exist.”

      We wish. But, yeah, he’s kind of douchey.

      I’ve always been annoyed with Mia Farrow because of the way she betrayed her “friend,” Dory Previn and because of the role she played in breaking up Dory and Andre Previn’s marriage. Of course, I also blame Andre for betraying his wife, Dory, also. (Dory was always kind of “high-strung,” but she had a complete nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for about a month at a mental institution after she found out that Andre had gotten Mia pregnant and was going to divorce her.)

      Not too long aftwerwards Dory, wrote and recorded a scathing ballad called “Beware of Young Women,” about the incident and you can find it on YouTube along with a video of Dory performing the song in a night club, if you google it. Of course, Mia eventually got tired of Andre and left him before hooking with Woody.

      When Woody dumped Mia for Soon-Yi, a lot of people who knew about Dory thought it was karma and/or cosmic payback for her role in destroying Dory’s marriage to Andre. I recall reading someone saying, “I bet Dory Previn is laughing her ass off right about now.”

      1. Fiennes*

        What happened to Mia Farrow’s daughter isn’t justice for Dory Previn or anyone, and I think it’s pretty gross to overlook that.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Not film, but the 70s Glam Rock singer Gary Glitter was charged with child abuse and other nasty things you can read all about on Wikipedia.

          So whilst Rock and Roll Part 2 and I’m the Leader of the Gang (I am) are good songs, hearing them now leaves a horrible aftertaste.

    17. Allsorts*

      I will never watch a Meryl Streep movie again. And I really used to like her, but after her disgusting rant at the Golden Globes, I now only think of her as a loudmouth hag.

      1. Brendioux*

        Lol yes what a loudmouth hag for calling out the president for mocking somebody with a disability.

      2. Birdie*

        Oh I love her and the fact that there are people who speak up. The only one disgusting is the dude she talked about.

    18. LCL*

      I respect your position, but it’s not one that I take. Because I am old, and my tastes were formed when expectations were different, and before the 24 hour news cycle. So a lot of misdeeds were never spoken of, or not reported on, so there was nothing to boycott someone for because the public didn’t know. I love my classic rock, but whenever I read bios or in depth writing on that era I become even more jaded and cynical. I won’t stop listening to it, I can’t.

      Movies have so many people involved in their production, statistically there are bound to be a few creeps involved with any movie. So I doubt I would ever refuse to see a movie because of an actor’s background. Sad to say, in the back of my mind, I think every man of my generation has a violent or molest-y incident in his past until proven otherwise , because expectations were different. Sorry guys. I love men and get along with y’all great, but am always just a little bit wary.

      1. LCL*

        …and just added to amend women can be predators too. Google Marion Zimmer Bradley. I’m still keeping my Darkover books, that doesn’t mean I approve.

    19. Indoor Cat*

      Re: people don’t understand why I won’t pay or watch them

      I think anytime someone makes an ethical or moral judgement call that’s outside the norms, people who do normal things themselves *feel* judged, even though you (or I) don’t mean it as a judgement on them.

      I get this a lot as a vegetarian. I think it’s because the moral reasoning behind vegetarianism is based on something everybody agrees with– namely, factory farming is animal abuse, and people shouldn’t abuse animals.

      But then, people have a, “so, what should I do about it?” choice to make. Some people choose, “nothing,” some people choose, “eat somewhat less meat / only eat from local farms,” some people choose, “opt out of the meat industry altogether,” and some people choose, “actively campaign against the meat industry and factory farms.” The thing is, I feel that all of those choices are valid, even the choice to do nothing.

      There are some situations where the choice to do nothing condones evil, but I don’t think the current animal welfare / factory farming situation is one of them. Neither is the rampant sexism, harassment, and abuse in the film industry. I might be wrong. And, coloring my judgement is, in both of these contexts, eating meat and watching Harvey Weinstein movies is broadly normative– far more people eat chicken nuggets and enjoy Pulp Fiction and the Kill Bill movies than refuse to.

      So that’s one part of it: the feeling (rightly or wrongly) that by choosing to opt-out of a destructive industry in some way, the majority who do not are condoning evil.

      The other part of it is, there’s a sense of, “quit yucking my yum.” It’s a phrase Ze Frank used in a video once. Essentially, it’s when someone tries to prevent someone from enjoying something they like, and make them feel ashamed for liking it instead. He used it in a context of talking about bullying, but I think the phrase applies to that emotion across the board. Pulp Fiction is a really fun, enjoyable, fascinating movie. Bacon-wrapped shrimp is delicious. Having that joy tainted by shame sucks, it feels bad.

      So…that’s where people are coming from. Which means, as people who’ve chosen to take an atypical moral stance, we have a few options.
      1. Let people sit with the shame / guilt and deal with it on their own; refuse to get into an argument where they defend their choices and you have to defend yours. “This is just what I believe / even so, this is my choice” [then change the subject to something neutral / happy].

      2. Try to soothe or alleviate the shame / guilt feelings. “Hey, listen, no judgement at all! Bacon is delicious [ /Pulp Fiction is phenomenal], I feel you. I could never give up ice cream [/Marion Zimmer Bradley novels], myself; everybody’s gotta make their own decisions.”

      These both work pretty well. What doesn’t work is getting into a long argument where you try to convince them you’re right and they’re wrong (ask me how I know!). Nor does apologizing for making an ethical decision that’s a minority choice. Apologizing for an action you aren’t going to change always comes off as disingenuous. And, anyway, you’re not actually sorry for skipping out on supporting the sexist, abusive directors in Hollywood, right? Because if you are, you shouldn’t be.

    20. Birdie*

      Anything Trump and Trump family related. They are more trashy celebrities to me than anything else ( dangerous ones)
      Mark Wahlberg
      Kevin Spacey
      Roman Polanski
      Woody Allen ( but his movies never interested me)
      People on Fox News
      Clint Eastwood

      The list will grow as more news comes out of terrible people. I find it quite easy to boycott, as there are plenty of things to still watch.

    21. This Daydreamer*

      I extend it to books as well. My heart has been broken by Orson Scott Card, Johnny Depp, and Kevin Spacey. All of them have work that I absolutely fell in love with and now it’s all completely ruined for me.

  4. Purple snowdrop is finally free*

    I left the husband.
    I’m safe with the child.
    I’ll write more later but just wanted to post early as I know some of you will be here wanting to know.
    Thank you all for the support you have given me since the end of May. At that point I gave myself a maximum of 18 months to leave. I’ve done it in just over 5.
    There’s a long, long way still to go. But I’ve done it. I’ve left. And I am never going back.

    1. Effie, who is fine*

      You made it!!!!!!

      I am so excited and happy for you I’m going to do a backflip when I go to the studio tomorrow (since I don’t have safety equipment at home).

      You are mighty!!!!!!!!

    2. Cristina in England*

      Thank you for posting this update. So glad you got out!! I hope now you can find some peace and happiness.

    3. Myrin*

      Oh purple snowdrop, I’m so happy to hear that! I was thinking of you and your son throughout the last week and am so, so glad you’re free. Don’t tell anyone, but I might have shed a tear or two – go you!

    4. Thlayli*

      So happy for you. Good luck with the visitation issues I hope you get supervised visitation like you wanted.

    5. No Name Yet*

      So glad to hear this! You and your son have been in my thoughts this week. Sending more good wishes for whatever comes next!

    6. nep*

      Wow. Deep respect for you, and wishes for peace and the best of health for you and your child. Thanks for the update. You’re lifting us all up here.

    7. Annie Mouse*

      I am so glad to hear that, I’ve spent the last few days wishing for this thread to see how you were doing and hoping you were ok. You’ve done fantastic to do what you have so quick.

    8. patricia*

      I have been thinking about you all week. I’m so happy for you- I know there’s a long way to go but I’m so glad you’re on the road. Be well. :-)

    9. Look What You Made Me Do*

      Wonderful news! I hope you and your child can stay safe and happy. I’m rooting for you!

    10. Not So NewReader*

      You are so strong, that even you don’t know how strong you are.
      I am so glad you posted. I also thought of you with a tear in my eye this week.
      When my mother died, the doc wrote my father a letter. In that letter he said, “as you reweave your life…”. I have held on to that phrase, it’s so good. While you have a ways to go yet to close this chapter, you are also beginning the new chapter of reweaving your life. Am wishing you a beautiful tapestry.

    11. rj*

      wow this is the best news! (I mostly lurk on here) Keep us posted on how things go, as feels best for you.

    12. Belle di Vedromo*

      Thank you so much for this report!
      Your strength and courage and kindness will carry you far.

      I hope you have felt held and cared for by many as you took this step and, and do for the many to come.

      Hugs to you.

    13. Sputnik*

      I’ve never written a response to one of your posts before (thanks, anxiety) but I’ve been following them closely and I am so relieved to hear this, and so happy for you. Beaming all the jedi hugs in your direction ^_^

    14. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      I am so proud of you! I wish you all the success in building a new life from here.

  5. Jessica*

    Has anyone used YNAB (You Need A Budget) software? Pros/cons or any input on what you thought of it would be appreciated!

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      I used it when I was trying to figure out how to budget properly having got a job after years and years of self employment and with a LOT of debt to pay off (over 20k).

      It changed my entire attitude to money. Just over a year later I hardly spend anything and I’ve paid of £4,000 of debt.

      I don’t still use it as I just got the free trial. Cons: some features only worked on the desktop not the phone app. I forget which.

    2. Emma*

      I’ve been using it for years, and I love it – I don’t have any debt, but I find it’s a really convenient way to keep track of spending and savings goals; to check on the fly whether I can afford that nice top or to go out; and it works well whether you mostly use card or cash.

      Unfortunately, I went to recommend it to a friend recently and found that they’ve completely changed the pricing structure. When I started using it, I paid $25US to buy the software about about €3 to buy the mobile app, and I’m still using them 7 years later. They’ve now changed to a subscription setup which offers much less value for money. So if you can find a way of getting the older version, I would do so.

      1. Mallory Janis Ian*

        God, I miss the days of just buying a software thing every few years and being done with it. I hate how everything now wants to slowly bleed $$ out of you in perpetuity. Good model for them, getting fat like a tick, but sucks for the consumer. They say it’s so that they can provide you with timely updates, but I prefer to just buy new software when the updated version is significantly enough better to make it worth the expense.

        Tl;dr Bah, subscription fees!

      2. Triceratops*

        At this point, I disagree about trying to get the old version — they’re no longer supporting or updating that software, so it will not be stable especially as operating systems update. I switched to the web version about a year ago because my desktop purchase was so buggy that it kept crashing.

    3. CatCat*

      I love YNAB and have been using it for years.

      The free classes are a great help to understand the program and the philosophy underlying it. I highly recommend taking the class and joining the facebook group “YNAB Fans!” for help and support if you are on facebook. The biggest challenge is probably the learning curve.

      As Emma pointed out, it is now a subscription model now (annual fee). It it is also now a web app instead of downloadable software so you need an internet connection to use it. At first I hated the new YNAB. It definitely had some kinks, but I gave it a try again a little over a year after it rolled out and I found it much improved. I’m not going to to hash out the differences because the prior versions and the new version because the prior versions are no longer available for purchase. Even with an annual fee, it pays for itself, in my view. The game changer new features for me have been goals and direct bank import.

      There is an unofficial extension you can add to your browser called “YNAB Toolkit” that adds some additional functionality. I use it so I can have a running balance column (this is a bit of a baffling exclusion from the official app to me).

      There is also Android and iPhone apps. They recently did a big upgrade on the app so it has a lot more functionality than it used to. I can do most of what I need to do from the Android app now. I will say, the new phone app also had problems when it rolled out and those seem to have been fixed. The company has excellent support, but I definitely think they could be do a better job with actual roll out of some stuff.

      The core philosophy under YNAB is to give every dollar a job. As such, it is a zero based budget. It really helps gain awareness of what all your money is supposed to be doing.

      YNAB comes with a set of default budget categories, but you can alter them and set whatever categories you want.

    4. Shayland*

      I personally just use excel. I used to use mint but it didn’t do all the things I wanted in terms of charting and maths. I’m personally a huge fan of charting and maths.

      You’ve also reminded me that since my health crashed a few weeks ago I haven’t updated my spreedsheet at all.

      1. Thursday Next*

        Sorry, mobile error.
        I use an app called Goodbudget, which is free and uses the envelope system. I don’t connect it to my bank account so it’s more like a spreadsheet but I’m someone who likes to track and plan things obsessively so it works.

    5. Natalie*

      Love it. And more importantly (for me) my husband finally started to “get” budgeting once we started using YNAB; before that it was a constant struggle.

      The concept of zero based budgeting is certainly something you can do on your own if you don’t care to pay for it. As a lazy person I’m a big fan of direct import and software that will do a lot of the work for me.

    6. K.*

      I love it. I’ve been using it for a year or so now and I’ve hit my savings goal and debt repayment goals (I had some credit card debt to pay off; after that it’s just my student loans). I have pretty good money habits in general but using it really forces me to interact daily with my money and to think carefully about where it goes and where it SHOULD go.

    7. Red*

      I have, and I have to say, it’s honestly completely changed how I look at money. The last couple of months were difficult and I really fell off the metaphorical wahoo with regards to looking at my budget, but now that I’m going back and looking at what I did, I did really well. Ynab is so much more about your relationship with money than anything else. Please do the workshops and read the blog now and then, it is worthwhile

    8. HannahS*

      No, but I know people who’ve really liked it. Right now I’m using a google drive sheet, and committing to paying for everything either via debit, e-transfer or credit card. That way, when I get my visa bill I sit down and enter everything without having to track receipts or cash. I’m not saving for anything specific, but just trying to get a sense of how I spend money, am I spending too much/not enough in certain categories, are my instincts on when to buy/not buy reasonable, etc. It’s only my third month doing it, and I’m seeing that I’ve been spending too much on my phone (so I switched plans) and that I’d rather take all the money I spend on asocial food (a category I made up: it means meals/snacks I buy on campus, as opposed to social food which is going out to eat with friends) and spend it on my hobbies.

    9. copy run start*

      Yes! Using it since 2013. However I’m still using the old desktop-based version (YNAB 4), not the new version. There are some changes to how the web-based version (often referred to as nYNAB) handles your money that I’m not ready to try as long as YNAB4 still works for me.

      I really like how simple the 4 rules are: give every dollar a job, save for a rainy day, roll with the punches and live on last months money (I think this is “age your money” in the new version). If you want to be successful with the YNAB rules, I think it’s worth the investment (or at least the trial). Overall it’s fairly simple to use, but expect to put in a few hours getting set up and learning how to do things, especially if you have credit card debt, and expect to have a headache at first if you have credit card debt AND are actively charging on the card. (YNAB wants to take your current charges out of your money to spend immediately, as if you had spent cash, and that’s not how we typically think of or treat credit cards!)

      If you don’t dig the rules/philosophy, then I would not recommend purchasing YNAB. YNAB is just a tool to make following the YNAB rules easier, but all of the info on their rules is already available online. If you’re skeptical or good enough with Excel to make a homebrew version, go for it.

    10. nonegiven*

      I use the older version YNAB 4. I tried to make Quickbooks and Gnucash do that system and it was just too complicated. YNAB makes the envelope system easy to do.

      I’m not planning to do the online only version as, from experience, I might have to go a week without power or internet and I can’t go that long without access to my budget even if I have to use a 50′ extension cord to turn on my computer for a few minutes on the generator. I understand the new phone app makes it possible to get by on cellular data, but I’m not planning to get a smart phone any time soon.

      Watch the videos, read the articles on the site, and take the classes, they are free and very helpful.

    11. Ellen Ripley*

      Every Dollar is a free online alternative with a similar approach (from what I understand – I haven’t used YNAB myself). It is from Dave Ramsey’s company but you don’t have to go full-on evangelical to use it, the software itself is pretty agnostic.

    12. Triceratops*

      I (very fortunately I think) stumbled upon YNAB about 3 months into my first job after college, so it’s really the only budgeting system I use. The biggest pro I think is that it’s budgeting in a very practical way — you say “I have $1300 until my next paycheck, and here’s what I need to pay”. The idea is that eventually you’ll build up enough margin that you can plan your whole month in advance.

      The only con is that the way it handles credit card overspending is not very intuitive. I would explain but I’m not even sure I fully understand it. But, if you stay under your budget category, it’s not a big deal. I only find it’s an issue when I’m waiting on reimbursements for work, etc.

    13. Kerr*

      Piggybacking on this, is there a YNAB-like software (not online or mobile app) that anyone would recommend? I was all set to purchase YNAB last year, which is when I realized they went cloud-based. I want my financial data to be stored locally, which rules out things like Mint.

      Tried using Quicken in the past, but it didn’t make sense. I like to see how much I have in specific budget categories (like the envelope system) and Quicken didn’t seem to let me do that. OK for tracking, less great for planning/budgeting. But maybe I was using it wrong? I want a system that will easily let me track both credit and checking account expenses together, without it being a huge process. I pay my CC bill in full every month, so tracking CC payments is less important than making sure all of my CC purchases are included in my monthly budget categories.

  6. Junior Dev*

    Mental health thread! How are you doing? What are you struggling with? What are you proud of?

    I feel pretty good because I went roller skating today. It had been a couple weeks since I last went. But earlier today I was feeling depressed and overwhelmed and tired.

    I’m on an online volunteer project where all the organizers are burned out and starting to argue with each other. I’m not an organizer but I want to set some limits on how I engage to avoid getting sucked in.

    I have a conference I’m supposed to go to tomorrow but I’m not sure how much I have the energy to do. I want to try and go for a couple hours though.

    I have been putting off opening mail, paying bills etc. My parents are helping me out while I’m unemployed but I feel so guilty about needing their help that I put off dealing with financial stuff until the last minute and it’s a problem.

    I’m doing the depression thing where I don’t deal with stuff, don’t clean, don’t take care of myself. I just feel like it’s so much effort to do the stuff I’m already doing and it’s hard to do more.

    But, I am exercising, seeing friends, getting some personal stuff done, volunteering a lot. I need to give myself credit.

    How are you doing?

    1. Sled dog mama*

      Can’t sleep tonight. (Some of this is related to that thing we don’t talk about on weekends but I’ll try to keep it in the how that relates to my mental health realm) We had a patient come into the clinic yesterday who is very young (adult but still abnormally young) and was diagnosed with a brainstem cancer six months ago, he is also is autistic and mom has been coming to appointments with him. He was looking at going to college before this diagnosis. His prognosis sucks, likes gonna be lucky to make it to next summer sucks.
      I am a total wreck. The only thing I can think is has anyone asked Mom how she is doing. I want to ask her. I want to let her know that she’s not the only mother who has watched powerless as their child gets sicker and sicker and dies. My daughter didn’t have cancer but several of the Mom’s who supported me after her death lost their children to cancer so I know that their experience was similar to mine.
      At the same time it’s not my area to be counseling patients or their families and she may not have accepted how gravely ill her son is.
      On top of this I forgot to take my anti depressants yesterday so my long suffering but truly amazing husband got weepy mess last night instead of the nice date night we had planned.
      I am afraid that I’m going to break down in tears on Monday when this patient comes back and I have to walk him and his mom through our pre treatment process.
      I’m also nervous because only 3 of the 45 people I work with know about my daughter (I changed employers about 9 months after her death) and I don’t want them to see me any differently because of her. I have decided that I’m ok with everyone knowing about her but I’m still scared because people are weird and react weird to anything to do with death.
      So yeah mental health, I am asking for a referral to my EAP on Monday because clearly I’m not quite in as good a place as I thought I was and hopefully they can help me sort out what I need long term to get to that better place.
      On the positive side, next Friday I leave for my first real (absolutely no work, no logging in remotely or checking email allowed by my employer) vacation in four years, I am so excited and somehow I got hubs to agree to plan one day of sitting by the pool doing nothing.
      TL;DR- something at work yesterday sent me into a spiral and made me realize that I not in the place mentally that I thought I was so I’m going to be getting some help with that.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Grief has a way of compounding. We don’t finish grieving one thing and the next thing comes along adding itself and restarting the old unfinished grief. I hope you are very gentle with you, even though life has been so harsh. I would like to suggest that perhaps processing your own grief is the most important step to take.

      2. Sybil Fawlty*

        I am so sorry to hear that you are going through this. I lost my seven year old son after a long illness, and I would have a really hard time walking another family through that. Big hugs for you and I hope your vacation will help clear your head.

    2. Ramona Flowers*

      Yay for roller skating. I hope you were able to enjoy it. Is it something you like to do regularly? And yes you do need to give yourself credit! Can I give you some too?

      With money stuff, personally I find it can help to get a trusted person to go through my post with me when it gets on top of me and work out what needs action and what is just for information. Also lots of self-care around this. Be kind to yourself before, during and after.

      As for me, I mentioned on yesterday’s open thread that someone from my workplace died by suicide. Not someone I worked with – one of the facilities staff in a building where we and others rent space – but I was used to seeing them pretty much every day. It’s brought up a lot of stuff for me. I called Samaritans yesterday evening which helped a lot (I’ve called them a number of times and they’re usually brilliant). I have an EAP therapist but don’t have an appointment this coming week (she’s away part of the week and I’m on a training course so it worked out for both of us to skip the week). I could also have called the 24-hour EAP helpline. But sometimes something more anonymous is preferable.

      It’s been a pretty hard few weeks for various reasons. What’s going well and what am I proud of? I’ve been using good healthy coping mechanisms, like confiding in friends, calling helplines and doing things I find comforting (like rewatching the Harry Potter films – Prisoner of Azkaban is my go-to in particular) and not gone to less ideal ones like emotional shopping or smoking. I am a week off six months of no smoking. (I also have another addiction I’m recovering from, which I won’t get into. Suffice to say I’m not relapsing.)

      The world just feels like a dark and sad place today.

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            “My boss won’t stop talking in hyperbolic metaphors. And I swear he’s been replaced by a different person. Also, he won’t let me teach defence against the dark arts.”

      1. K.*

        I just got some upsetting news about work (I won’t say more since this is the open thread) but I’m proud of how I handled it: I got angry, took a deep breath, talked it out with friends and family, and started shifting my thinking to “What do I need to do to deal with this?” and then took steps to do those things. I’ll talk it through with my therapist and I also have some therapy homework to do, which will help.

        Physically, I feel really good – my workouts have been great and I’ve been eating well, so that helps.

        I’ve been going in and out with sleeping badly so I’m worried that this news will mess up my sleep, but I’ll cross that bridge if I get to it.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I’m sorry you’ve had upsetting news, and really impressed at how you’ve managed to handle it – that’s great.

      2. Junior Dev*

        I’m glad you have good coping mechanisms. I’m so sorry about your colleague’s death. I’ve been thinking about you since you posted that, how are you holding up today? (It’s Saturday here)

        I used to skate once or twice a week. Lately I haven’t been because the rink costs $7 or $8 to get in and I need to save money, plus I’m not taking my roller derby class this session for the same reason. I’ve been lifting weights pretty consistently.

        Skating is hard because it tends to be loud and crowded and I don’t always have the energy to deal with that, but I’m glad I went yesterday.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Hey, thanks. It’s saturday here too. I’m feeling kind of discombobulated – it’s brought up a lot of different stuff for me that I think is always going to come up when someone dies this way, however much I may think I’ve worked through it. I’ve kind of accepted that and just have to get through it. Husband is at work (music industry, weird hours/very far from 9-5) but I’m snuggled with my cat who’s shut inside due to fireworks and have been rewatching all the Harry Potters.

          I’m glad you were able to go skating and sorry to hear you’ve had to cut down for money and mental health related reasons. Roller derby looks super cool but so scary (though most of what I know I learned from Whip It… so may not be accurate!)

      3. Red*

        I’m so incredibly proud of you for using healthy coping mechanisms and staying away from retail therapy and smoking – I remember your posts from when you were first quitting and I’m so happy for you that you’ve reached six months! That’s such a huge achievement :)

        I’m also happy to hear that the helplines were a positive experience. I’ve often thought about calling one myself but I was far too anxious to, but hearing that it was helpful is really reassuring.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          Thank you so much! This means a lot to me. It’ll be six months on the 11th. It feels like it’s been longer, which is a good thing I think.

          You’re definitely not alone in feeling anxious about calling helplines, although I’m sorry if it’s stopped you doing so when you’ve needed to. One thing that can be helpful to remember is if you don’t feel the person answering is the right fit for you for any reason eg you don’t like their voice, you can totally hang up and call back to get someone else.

    3. Shayland*

      I used up all of a recent good day to get groceries. In addition to having a huge PTSD and depressive episode my other disabilities (neurological) are flaring up and making it almost impossible to do… well, anything. I’m hanging in there though.

      My dad will also hopefully come over and be willing to help me get my apartment straightened out and my life back together.

      1. Junior Dev*

        I know that feeling of using up a good day. I also tend to get very drained by grocery shopping. I’m glad you are gradually getting stuff done even though things are hard!

    4. Beatrice*

      I’m making good strides on decluttering, which makes it easier for me to stay on top of cleaning. My husband is out of town this weekend, and I’m going to try to get some extra progress made in his absence. I’ve discovered that organizing and decluttering my space is more relaxing for me, long term, than actually relaxing.

      I’m struggling with contacting repair people about work I need done on my home. I’ve had some baaaad experiences – a roofing job a few years ago that was done poorly, and a siding job I currently need to have done, that I can’t seem to get a quote for, without a lot of annoying follow-up. Contractor 1 measured for the job, asked me to call him to remind him about the quote if I didn’t have it by X, I had to remind him, and then things I asked for were not included in it. Contractor 2 sent me a quote to replace the roof instead of the siding, then promised to come out twice and re-measure for the siding job, and ghosted on me both times. Both of them came highly recommended by people I trust, so I don’t know what the deal is. But this week, my water heater started leaking, and I contacted a plumber about replacing it, and he was prompt and responsive and it was a fantastic experience. I’m borrowing some extra cash from the new siding fund, and splurging on an on-demand water heater, since the siding has to wait till spring now, and I can replace the money by then.

      1. JaneB*

        I’m very very tired at the moment – but I made myself do a couple of things anyway (including going to my sisters graduation today) and for once it was okay – I didn’t get all hyper and annoying from pushing myself, and I’m not feeling too bad about not doing W-word stuff that really needs doing this weekend, but letting myself have a nap (slept v little last night worrying about the graduation) and then I’m going to go play in my nanowrimo world for a while….

      2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

        I don’t know what it is about home repair people but I’ve always found it to be like pulling teeth to get them to actually come do the work sometimes. Like I’m sitting here with cash in hand and have made sure I’m in, and they just don’t show up or answer the phone. Makes me think I should retrain as a roofer or bricklayer.

    5. NaoNao*

      Good: Doing NaNo and it’s going great!!
      Struggle: attended some social events and didn’t socialize as much as I wanted. Still getting used to being sober at bars and events where there’s drinking.

    6. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve had the same issues with accepting help from family. I’m really trying to find something, but it feels as though my resumes are going into a black hole–I’m not getting responses from jobs I should be getting responses from, and it’s easy to think that the universe is just being a dick again.

      But I don’t get that feeling from it this time around, and I’m trying to hold onto that. Need to get back into my meditation practice, which I’ve been neglecting. It will be very important this month since I’m so busy with other projects.

    7. Shrunken Hippo*

      I’m on a bit of an upswing this week. I’ve successfully exercised 3 times this week, and I’ve been journaling everyday. I have also been reading and baking more. I may still be unemployed but doing something makes me feel better. I have also discovered that I have rides into the city for a guaranteed 7 hours Monday-Friday so I can apply for work there, which has really helped to get my out of my slump.

      I am a little upset at myself for avoiding people this week, but I am working out plans to go out with a friend this week. For now though, I have a mug of tea, a nice view of the snow covered landscape, fresh cinnamon buns baking, and a good book to keep my occupied.

    8. Persephone*

      I started the weekend off pretty badly – for context, I’m perpetually single, and have always wanted marriage and kids. (I know, they’re not all they’re cracked up to be, but it’s something I want.) I was teetering on the edge of just general sadness, keeping it at bay, and was talking to a friend with kids about how I was concerned uni and work were going to be a bit of a balancing act over Christmas. Friend replied something about it being good I’m childless, and that sent me into a bit of a tailspin of sadness and lots of tears when I got home from work. Just a lot of sadness about how life is at the moment for me (rather stagnant) and lots of getting upset at myself for being upset about something so trivial when there are real problems in the world. I’m doing a bit better now. Yesterday, the post-“bawling my eyes out” headaches and dizziness were so ridiculous. Today, I’m hoping it’s better.

      1. Fiennes*

        I’m so sorry. I’m childless too, not by choice, and it’s unbelievable how insensitive people can be. Just hang in there.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        Not trivial at all. Someone made a thoughtless, hurtful comment and kicked you in a place that hurt, a place of grief and loss. That’s as real a problem as any other.

        Fellow human, you felt sad and that mattered. Please have some internet hugs if you would like them.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          PS from someone who does not have children for health reasons and can relate to how painful such comments can be.

    9. Red*

      I’m still having a rough time with self harm, but I’m very proud of having made myself a therapist appointment. It’s a big deal for me, I’ve done therapy before and it’s a brutal process to find the right one and then to work through your stuff.

      My big thing right now is, I used to be okay with short sleeves, even though they showed my scars, because the newest ones were a solid 7 years old. I’m not so happy with them now because that’s no longer the case and I’m thinking of going back to long sleeves 24/7, but I’m concerned that’s just going to make people suspicious because they’ve all seen the old scars and how they got there is absolutely obvious, there is seriously zero ambiguity. Thoughts?

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Well done for making the therapist appointment. That sounds like a difficult and important step to have taken. I hope the therapist can help you work through whatever it is you need to work through to be able to stop using this particular coping mechanism. I’m proud of you for asking for help at a time when it feels hard to do so.

        I think if it’s winter where you are, people won’t necessarily make the connection that you’re wearing long sleeves and this is the reason – it may not be something they’ll notice even though you’re hyper aware of it. They might just think you’re cold. Does that feel okay for you? Or are you really worried about getting asked questions?

        Internet hugs if you’d like them.

        1. Red*

          I appreciate the internet hugs so much :) I know I’m probably way overthinking things with the clothes, it is winter in Buffalo NY after all… It’s like acne though, all you can think is that everyone’s staring at your pimple but odds are that no one’s even noticed. It’s just your own insecurities speaking.

    10. Chaordic One*

      Odd government job made an offer and I accepted, but the actual job supposedly doesn’t start until December 11. There was additional paperwork to fill out online, which I’ve done and since then… silence. At some point I’m supposedly going to have to be fingerprinted and I’ll probably have to pee in a cup, but I haven’t heard from anyone about getting that done. I just hope that nothing weird happens and that they don’t withdraw the offer since I have more than a month to go before it actually starts. The suspense is killing me.

    11. Mischa*

      Increased my sertraline to 25 mg, then will do again to 50 mg after a check in with the psychiatrist on Friday. And holy cow, guys — I feel so good. I feel normal. My focus is a thousand percent better. I am doing so much better academically.

      Sleep still isn’t great, nor is exercising. Running a 5k tomorrow, though! On the sleep front I am trying to stop drinking caffeine by noon. I just cannot wake up in the mornings, despite setting multiple alarms. But I’m getting there.

    12. Beatrice3*

      Hear hear for giving yourself credit! It sounds like you’re taking good care of yourself, and that’s a huge deal.

      It’s been kinda up and down for me lately. Currently in the last year of my degree and feeling overwhelmed by all the deadlines and expectations. I feel like I’m just barely holding everything together. I worry a lot about messing something up and letting down someone who depends on me.

      One thing I’ve been frustrated with is that I feel like I’m being really self-centered when I’m in this space. When I’m feeling overwhelmed, I have a hard remembering to call my friends, remember stuff that’s happening at home, etc. It’s hard sometimes to even have silly or fun conversations when I’m kinda bogged down. But these things really matter, and I really want to maintain those relationships. I’m not sure how much I should let people in on how I’m feeling, because on one hand I know I could really use some extra support, but on the other hand, I don’t want people to feel obligated to reach out to me.

      Things I’m doing to try and keep my chin up, at least until my next break when I can breathe: Jog. Make sure I’m leaving time to talk to other people, even if it’s just lunch or doing some work together. Drinking less coffee. Using the free counseling services through my university.

    13. Anonorama*

      I have been crap this week about taking my meds regularly in the mornings. Normally that’s not an issue for me at all, but the combination of messed up sleep and having to get up in the dark to get to my seasonal part time job (so glad DST is done) threw me off. I’m worried about how this winter will go for me as I’m really feeling the increasing darkness and relocated to a more northerly location with harsher winters since last year. If anybody has recs for light boxes or other SAD-busters I’d love to hear them.

    14. Clever Name*

      So I’m divorcing my husband. Emotionally, I’m really doing okay. STBX was such an emotional drain on me for years and years, and I’m just now realizing it. My chronic neck and shoulder pain is resolving. I sleep better. My anxiety is pretty much gone. He would tell me how I was so bad at handling stress and was “crazy”. Turns out that’s what happens when you’re married to someone who outsources all his emotional processing onto you.

      So now I’m faced with setting appropriate boundaries. Unfortunately, I will have to deal with him for the rest of my life because we have a child together. We’re getting along just fine and coparenting is going well. But I no longer want to be his sounding board- he’s been telling me all about his job hunt (he’s been miserable at his job for at least 5 years, and I got to hear him complain every single day about his company but he never applied to any jobs until now), he went to a Halloween movie and texted me about people in costume, last night he told me to go look at the moon. I’m humoring him now while the divorce is pending, but I’d like to do a slow fade on the emotional support. Is that stupid of me? I don’t want to mess up how well we get along, but I’d like to be free from dealing with his emotions-that’s a main reason why I’m done with the marriage. Part of me hopes he’ll get a girlfriend soon so she can take over that role (poor her). Thoughts, advice?

      1. Gingerblue*

        I’m sorry you’re dealing with this, and the slow fade sounds strategically sound to me, especially while the divorce is still proceding. Also, your ex sounds exhausting. “Bad at handling stress” and “crazy” my left foot.

  7. Lauren R*

    I’m registered for a class this weekend at my local community college that meets the requirements needed to become a notary in my state. Has anyone taken one of these classes before? I really don’t know what to expect and there’s very little info I could find online as to what the course will actually be like, other than just a general “you must complete this class before submitting your notary application”.

    I know it’s from 9-5 one day only, and that I need the most recent notary manual for my state. (When you register they actually say you’ll be turned away if you show up without one, so I would imagine the course is largely based around covering the manual? But on the other hand the state requires all notaries to keep a copy at all times so maybe that’s the basis for mandating it?)

    You’d think I could find something more concrete via google, but I just haven’t been able to. I guess I’ll find out when I get there but I’m the type who hates not knowing what to expect and prepare for. If anyone has any experience with this type of class I’d love to hear about it. I’m in NC but I’m sure knowing any state’s experience would help!

    1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      I’m a notary in DC, and it was a much shorter class than that! But it was easy. There were a couple places where I felt like what the class taught and what the manual taught contradicted each other, but the people teaching the class didn’t seem super concerned when I asked them. Like, for instance, in my understanding it’s not _required_ that you actually check a person’s ID before notarizing, if they are otherwise known to you. But the class told me it was required, and when I asked, it was basically “well it’s better to be safe than sorry.” Which, sure, yeah, but I wanted to know the actual truth of the matter.

      Otherwise, the class was largely about what notaries can and cannot do, which nobody understands in the wider world, _especially_ people who design forms that they require notarized signatures on. For instance, a friend of mine was going thru a background check for a job, and the background check company required him to get any tax documents that weren’t prepared by a third party notarized before he sent them, which is the stupidest thing in the world. A notary absolutely can’t and doesn’t attest to anything about the document. The purpose is simply to have an outside verification that the person who signed the document is the actually the person they claim to be. That’s it.

      But you’ll have to notarize all kinds of things like that, because people sort of think of the purpose of a notary is to make things vaguely more “official.” You’ll have to notarized forms that absolutely do not give you the space you need to put the whole rigamarole with seal, and you’ll have to just do it over the words printed on the form and roll your eyes. It’s a big mess, but it is fun to stamp stuff.

    2. Belle di Vedromo*

      I took the exam and served about ten years ago in a different state. It seemed mostly straightforward, with the caveat that Kimberly mentioned and the then new to me one of some folks asking for a “gold” notary signature which was a novelty (and not something I could provide with my license.) You could browse for other states and find their online exams and run through them to see where your initial questions, if any, are and take those to your class too.

    3. copy run start*

      I used to be a notary and my state has a similar requirement. Basically, they’re just drilling into you the information in the handbook and ensuring you understand what you need to do, what a notary actually does* and how to protect yourself from being liable if there is an issue by doing it right.

      Also, be prepared to have people ask you to notarize all sorts of weird stuff, from I-9’s to scribbled nonsense letters to their landlord to shady car titles, because people don’t know what a notary does, think notaries have to sign everything brought to them and think notarization makes things more “official.”

    4. Nana*

      Suggestion: subscribe to your state’s Notary magazine for up-to-date info on changes as well as good reminders of what can happen to Notaries who skirt the rules! [I was a Notary for several years, in the 1990’s…may be better info on line now.]

  8. Ann Furthermore*

    I’m feeling exhausted by the school board election in our county, which will finally be over on Tuesday. I know we don’t get into politics here, so I won’t get into specifics. Suffice to say that due to 2 diametrically opposed ideologies, and the demographics of our county, this election has gotten national attention and big, big money has flowed in on both sides (which I hate no matter what the source of the funding is). I very strongly support one side and feel the other will cause irreparable harm to the school district. There are quite a few Facebook pages for people in the community to discuss it and I’ll admit that I’ve gotten a bit obsessed with it. I think it’s great that people are passionate and involved, but that can turn nasty and get personal very quickly. I’ll be relieved when it’s over.

    1. rubyrose*

      Douglas County Colorado, by any chance? I agree with all you have said and will be glad when it is over.

      1. Ann Furthermore*

        Yes, that’s the one. After the 2016 election I realized if you want to work towards affecting change you need to keep your focus local. I’m already very active in the PTO and SAC at my daughter’s school, so I was already involved in that regard. As part of the SAC I’ve learned a little about what goes into school funding…holy cow it’s a complex and convoluted process.

      2. Ann Furthermore*

        Jeffco and Denver counties are both experiencing the same thing we are. I hate that our state is being used as a litmus test for competing agendas for public education.

  9. Extra anon*

    Earlier this year I had to drop an intense fandom friendship, because I lost the ability to explain why I didn’t want to hear about their fanfic where an older man falls in love with a teen boy. Saying no, this is creepy? Apparently that was a personal attack against this friend. Not wanting to submit to a video chat to hear how I should’ve been nicer in drawing that boundary? Apparently I’m the bad guy.

    But because of the way that fandom can work, I thought I was the bad guy. Surely my own feelings of deep discomfort should be secondary to supporting my friend’s creative expression? Maybe the pairing isn’t as deeply squicky as I think it is? Uh, no. (And yeah, I did twig to an abusive dynamic once I detangled myself – my social circle had grown very small, everything was directed towards this person…)

    All these months later, I’m feeling hugely vindicated by the public response to the Kevin Spacey stories that are being shared this week. The guys who are speaking out are wonderfully brave, and it’s grimly gratifying to see that kind of predatory behaviour roundly condemned. My ex-friend had me doubting my strongly negative responses to that kind of age difference, and in my own small way it’s vindicating to see everyone agreeing that adult men preying on teens is wrong.

    This isn’t to minimise the victims’ experiences, and really it feels trivial to bring it up, but I wanted to mark a point in my own healing after getting out of an unhealthy relationship.

    1. Myrin*

      Your ex friend sounds like a bad friend and not a particularly nice person. :(

      I mean, I know that I’ve read (and enjoyed!) fics with some frigged-up shit in them, with stuff that I wouldn’t condone IRL or things that just don’t relate to my not-online life (for example, I’m asexual but enjoy reading erotica). I think it’s cool that we get to play with uncomfortable things in a fictional environment.

      But I’ve always found that one of the number one things to do in fandom as well as other parts of life is to respect people’s boundaries and wow, did your “friend” stomp all over that! Do they not know that one can like different things and still be friends? I have a good fandom friend who’s also asexual but also sex-repulsed and is uncomfortable with headcanons (or canon talk, for that matter) that are sexual – so I make sure to tag everything carefully and to not speak with her about erotic stuff because I know it’s upsetting to her. This really doesn’t have to be a problem and I’m glad you got out of that relationship and hope you’ll find much healthier and more pleasant ones!

      1. Extra anon*

        Thank you. And, I know what you mean – fic is a great place to play with those boundaries! I’d been a beta for this ex-friend many time, so in this case I was being asked to help rationalize the predator’s POV, never knowing when the message notification was going to be normal friend chat or “please help me work out how to make them kiss”.

        I wish we’d been able to have a productive conversation about how my being squicked/triggered by something they wrote wasn’t a referendum on their worth as a person. It had happened before (with a different fic-in-progress) and I felt obliged to do a lot of emotional labor to ‘fix’ things between us. This time the misunderstanding was enough of a kick to get myself out.

    2. Lauren R*

      It’s not trivial! When you’re in this kind of dynamic with someone, it can be hard not to second guess the things you know are true when the other person seems determined to make you into a bad guy for sticking to those beliefs. It’s often not until we get out of that relationship that we end up realizing all the ways we made ourselves smaller to stay in it, and it’s at that point that we can start to acknowledge that their behavior was their problem and not a reflection of you as a person or anything you deserved. It’s good that you got out of the “friendship” and I’m sending good thoughts as you continue to heal.

      Also I know people will argue it’s just fiction and people write about dark topics all the time, but fiction has a real world impact (as proven by the fact that someone would feel inspired enough by it to spend time writing their own versions) and there’s a big difference between writing about a dark topic in a negative light and writing a romance between an adult and a child like it’s not disgusting and abusive. Fiction that normalizes that behavior definitely does contribute to real abusers feeling more comfortable/justified in their actions and to real victims feeling their experience wasn’t as serious and upsetting as it actually was. You aren’t minimizing the victims’ experiences when you call attention to these works, because ultimately victims are the ones who get harmed when we allow that awful abuse to be romanticized, even by “just for fun” authors. You were right to end a friendship over this (even if she hadn’t been awful in other ways) and I’m sorry she tried to guilt you into believing otherwise.

      (As a side note: This is beside the point of course but was the fandom in question one of MCU films? Lately I’ve seen so many people celebrating the REALLY toxic dynamic between Tony and Peter in the new Spiderman film, which is hard to see even on a strictly platonic level; it’s bad enough when people act like that was in any way a positive, loving, or responsible “father figure” role but I’ve heard of people taking it to that far-worse extreme you describe and I’m so sorry you had to see that up close. It’s deeply upsetting just to know it’s out there so that’s another reason I really don’t think it’s trivial to feel so violated when someone you trust turns out to support/enjoy that. Sadly it could be plenty of other fandoms I’m sure, but that’s unfortunately the one that came to mind because I know what a queasy feeling I got when I heard about it. Just know you’re far from alone in feeling the way you do and I’m hopeful that the majority of people are not okay with this kind of thing.)

      1. Extra anon*

        Thank you. What you say about making myself smaller to fit resonates. (I’ve been surprised by how many friends I have to chat to now that I’m not feeling obligated to focus my life on this one person.) I’d been this person’s beta before, so I was used to chatting about characterisation and story beats – but repeatedly getting asked to break the POV of the adult as he fantasizes about making out with the child went too far.

        It wasn’t MCU, but did twist an otherwise reasonable caring/mentoring dynamic (in canon) into predatory abuse (and not in a dark!fic way). I’m sorry to hear that it’s happening in MCU, too.

    3. Jessen*

      Nice is overrated.

      No, seriously. Nice is overrated. People want to push being “nice” (especially for women) over standing up for what’s right.

    4. Lily Evans*

      Bad fandom can become such a weird echo chamber where people surround themselves only with other people who encourage their bad behavior. I’m sorry that happened to you!

    5. anon today*

      Fandom is….not as fun for me anymore. When I first got into it years ago, it had its drama, but it was pretty supportive. Now it’s very much “if you don’t think like I do, you’re the enemy!”

      I’ve been in plenty of fandoms where, for example, someone headcanons a character who is het in canon as ace in fanon, but if you headcanon them as bi or gay or even write them as het, you’re suddenly considered acephobic and bigoted or someone who personally attacks people for their sexuality. I feel like this is a majority of fandoms and if you don’t like the popular character or ship or headcanon, you’re forced to linger on the outside. There’s a tendency to stir up drama about things people don’t like instead of just ignoring and scrolling and going about your business without attacking people for their triggers or kinks/dislikes, etc.

      Fandom loves to claim it’s a safe space for anyone, but it’s really not. It’s become more of a hivemind than anything else, and that’s a shame. I’m sorry you had to deal with this.

    6. Not So NewReader*

      People will say we are wrong, because if we aren’t wrong then THEY must be in error. Sometimes all we can do is quietly, KNOW that we know where the truth is.
      Make someone kiss them? There are so many things wrong with that scenario, I won’t even go there.
      Moving away from this person was the exact thing to do in these circumstances.

  10. Rony Tobbins*

    Hey, Courageous cat! Last week I didn’t get the chance to explain what I meant by “personal transformation”, so I’m back now. Mostly, I guess this means getting over personal hang-ups that interfere with my ability to follow my dreams. For example: I’m a people pleaser. Usually it’s no big deal and I don’t lose much by accepting others’ wishes before mine. But there are a select few things I really care about where I’m working towards not budging (linked to some deeply-held values such as compassion, kindness and helping others) and towards turning a deaf ear to comments like “that’s useless to do, you won’t gain anything doing that”. Yeah, I’m gaining a lot, just not monetary value. Or, I’m quite easily distracted and a master procrastinator (and I smoke). All this takes work to overcome, a needed work because it keeps me from taking the actions I want. This kind of thing made me start this transformation. I essentially want to become the best version of me.

  11. Jessen*

    Reality is stupid and confusing and people are just annoying. I do not understand how I am supposed to be responsible for myself and my needs, but at the same time it’s acting entitled to want access to resources that would enable me to do that. Or that I should accept being treated badly because I require assistance and am not able to tell people to get lost.

    Ok, rant over.

      1. Jessen*

        It’s the self-sufficiency paradox. You’re expected to be “self-sufficient”, but almost none of us in modern society are actually directly producing most of what we need. So realistically, I have to find someone who’s willing to offer me the resources I need or something I can use to get them. A job is the preferred method of doing this for those who are able to work.

        The paradox comes when people then turn around and tell me I need to earn the right to have a sufficient compensation package to take care of my basic needs by either getting a degree or working my way up. Unless someone else is assisting me in the meantime, that doesn’t really work.

        1. misspiggy*

          Yes. People who say these things are either awful, or have embraced being lied to by awful people.

  12. Small talk*

    I’m horrible at small talk. I get nervous and shy and end up saying something that I regret or not saying anything at all. Part of the reason I get so nervous is because I think I am boring and have nothing to contribute to a conversation. How can I get better at this?

    1. TL -*

      Practice! Practice at the grocery store and the corner store and with people in line at the bus – just say, “Hi, how are you?” or “that looks good” – or respond to people who say “how are you” and just try to get a few back and forths and then leave when the transaction is done or the bus arrives. Situations like that are really low stress – if it’s awkward, it’s fine.

      1. Cheshire Cat*

        Thia is what worked for me. I practiced small talk in “low-risk” settings–chatting with a waitress, cashier, another person in line at the grocery store–then moved on to interactions with colleagues while waiting my turn at the coffee machine, that kind of thing. All inherently time-limited, which was a big help to me. These types of interactions helped boost my confidence, which made it easier to branch out into social settings.

        I also second the suggestions below to think of some conversational topics before you go into a stressful situation (parties where I only know the host are the worst!), and to ask questions. If you can’t think of anything to ask, “That sounds really interesting; can you tell me more about it?” often gets people talking.

        The social anxiety still kicks in, & I still have conversations with uncomfortable silences. But they are fewer & farther between now than they were. Best of luck to you!

        1. TL -*

          I think it can be really helpful to think of silence as a normal part of the rhythm and not as uncomfortable, actually! Giving people a few beats to think respond without verbal pressure can be really helpful.
          There are awkward silences but I’ve found the more I embrace pauses as a part of conversation, the more non-chatty people will feel comfortable speaking (especially men, in my experience.)

      1. Elkay*

        I run into the problem where if I’m asking them questions about something they’re interested in but I know nothing about the conversation grinds to a halt quickly, keeping asking questions feels like an interrogation (as I was once told).

        1. Colette*

          Let’s say you ask what their hobbies are, and they say they’re into llama herding. If you reply with “what’s that like?”, it’s a one-way conversation, but if you say “oh, I’ve never had a chance to learn much about llamas, I haven’t herded anything bigger than my cats! What’s that like?”, that’s more balanced (you’re giving information as well as getting it) and may be worth trying.

          Alternatively, you can say “I’ve never herded anything bigger than my cats, and cat-herding is just as hard as it seems!”, you’re not asking more about them but are leaving an opening for them to ask about you.

        2. Anion*

          Ask what their favorite foods are. Everybody has a food they love, and I imagine you do, too. So a conversation can flow quite naturally from there. I tried this once in desperation when having to make conversation with several of my MIL’s friends–older ladies I’d met like once before. It worked so well it’s become my go-to question for ice-breaking and conversation starting.

    2. The RO-Cat*

      One advice I see often (and it really works, at least for me) was to practice focusing on listening instead of speaking. That is, practice asking unintrusive questions about the person, instead of offering your opinion on whatever small talk subject is up. Most love to talk about themselves, so (1) you self-select out of “being boring” (which I know for a fact is not true for many, just a result of brainweasels) and (2) you turn instantly into the “nice guy who is fun to talk to” with almost no effort on your end. (Anecdote time: I had once a lady client who was The Niagara of Words. I spent 2h20m with her once where I literally said only “Mhmmm”, “Wow”, “How come?”, “You don’t say” several times – and that was the whole extent of my part. At the end she asked “Why don’t you come over more often? I love when we have these discussions!”)

      1. Zathras*

        This is my strategy for social gatherings where I don’t know anyone. There is always at least 1 person like this in the room, you just have to find them.

    3. Emma*

      Pre-prepare topics so you don’t wind up feeling put on the spot. Just look back at the last couple of weeks and pick out 4 or 5 things you can use to start a conversation, or to respond to questions like “what have you been up to?”. Other people will pick up your topics and run with them, and the whole situation gets a lot less awkward.

      (Examples might include, “Oh, I saw [film] last week. I enjoyed X and Y but I wasn’t convinced about Z.” “I’ve realised that it’s only 8 weekends until Christmas and I have no idea when I’ll have time to shop” etc)

    4. Lauren R*

      Ugh I am so with you!! I feel so uncomfortable making small talk. It’s like being back in school: you’re taking a test and you know you should know the material but your mind is just…blank. Just completely blank, no matter how much you search your brain for signs of life. And meanwhile the person is standing there in this awkward anticipation which just makes it so much worse. The feeling like you have nothing to offer is 100% me as well.

      I’ve been trying to get better at it and sadly the only way I’ve found that works is just to practice. It is not fun at all but it does get easier. I’ve felt MUCH better since I just started forcing myself to talk more even when I’d really rather not; you start to get used to it and it becomes less of a noteworthy moment even when it can still be stressful. And if I find myself in that “you have nothing to offer” mode I just try to ask myself “so what?”. Which is hard because your brain naturally has a million responses to that in favor of keeping your mouth shut! But seriously. So what? You’re “boring” for a brief period and then you both move on. Boring is not the worst thing in the world to be and harms no one, so you don’t have to feel guilty for being boring every now and then! And the thing is if you’re sitting in silence trying to figure out what to say, they’re clearly not carrying the conversation by themselves either so a) why should you have to? and b) it’s entirely possible they also feel awkward trying to come up with something to say and likely aren’t as focused on your silence as they are their own.

      I feel like one of the best things I learned in therapy is that not everything you do is a test. If you say something embarrassing, you didn’t fail as a human being. You JUST said something embarrassing. That’s all, and it doesn’t reflect on your character or impact your worth. No one walks away from a conversation with you, pulls out a clipboard, and starts grading your performance in that casual conversation. If you’re super awkward or stumble over your words, you still did better than the day before when you didn’t put yourself out there at all. And whatever minor mistakes you make in conversation will always seem bigger to you than to anyone else. It’s “small talk”, not a high-stakes negotiation! Cut yourself some slack because these mistakes are 100% forgivable.

      Also, this one is SO hard for me to remember: People are NOT doing you a favor by talking to you!! That is always how I feel in these situations but it’s just not true. They aren’t taking pity on you because they can see how boring and awkward you are and want to feel charitable. They’re talking to you because they like you, or because they’re interested in what you have to say, or because they’re just generally being friendly and warm. No one is expecting as much from you as you are from yourself, and people really don’t have some kind of internal radar that tells them you’re lacking in the conversation department and therefore they must interact as a good deed or something. They want to talk to you. Tell yourself that over and over until you can feel more comfortable starting to believe it. They want to talk to you because you DO have something valuable to share with them and with the world.

      Some tips to get started:
      -Make a mental list of go-to topics. These don’t have to be big things. The weather, weekend plans, how fast the week has gone by, can you believe it’s already November, etc. Those aren’t life-changing topics of course but it’s called “small talk” for a reason and it will get you started! Having those on a queue in your head ready to go will take away some of the “oh god what do I say now??” panic because it will become automatic to reach for those topics rather than looking for something “original” on the spot.

      -If all else fails, give them a compliment. “Wow I love your earrings!” “What a pretty sweater!” It’s a nice thing to do and hey, making someone feel good (even over something little) is enough to let you walk away from that interaction feeling less like it was a waste of their time.

      -Feel free to turn the conversation back on them when you’re not sure how to draw out a “boring” answer. “What are you up to this weekend?” “Oh nothing, you?” “Not much. I was thinking about seeing a movie but I’m not sure what all is out now. Have you seen anything good lately?” (You can definitely think of some of these sorts of answers beforehand too if you notice certain spaces where conversations tend to lag!)

      – You have experiences worth sharing, I promise – trust yourself to share them! That’s a hard one for me because I feel like sometimes all I do is just go to work, come home, sit around doing nothing with my dog in introvert paradise, sleep and repeat. Who wants to hear about that? But there’s stuff in that seemingly boring chain of events that can be interesting, funny, or relatable to others. Again a conversation isn’t a test and if all you can say in response to someone’s epic tale of hiking up a mountain is “Wow!! Sounds amazing! I think I watched a documentary on that a while ago and remember it looked really pretty.” that’s still something and it’s worth sharing, and no one is going to take it to mean you have no life (which is always what I fear when I can’t respond to a fun story with anything interesting of my own). If your plans for the weekend are sleeping in and hanging out on the couch all day, you can say that and it doesn’t mean anyone is going to write you off as permanently “boring with nothing valuable to add to a conversation”, even if you do that every weekend!

      -A good place to get practice (that isn’t as stressful as with people who know/want to form friendships with) is with people like cashiers, etc. Speaking as a cashier, I can honestly say that your checkout experience is mainly focused on just getting you in and out in a pleasant way. They aren’t putting a ton of thought into what you’re saying and won’t mind if you trail off at some point and just leave them to keep scanning your items in silence. I’ve gained a lot of my own practice by talking with customers and it’s helped just knowing there’s a designated start and end to that transaction, that I’m ultimately a small part of their day, and that they’re really not looking for me to dazzle and entertain them. The same is true from the other side too! As a cashier I really appreciate when people take the time to be friendly or make small talk, but don’t expect it and will remember the effort made to be friendly even if they happen to say something embarrassing (which honestly I can’t even remember an example of; if you’re nice I’ll pretty much come away happy regardless of what you say).

      -Another good place to practice is at events where there’s a specific subject. At a book group, you’ll be talking and sharing your ideas but won’t need to think of topics yourself. Or at a bowling night, you’ll be having fun and meeting people but not necessarily doing a ton of talking anyway (since it’s usually loud and there’s lots of moving around/watching people bowl/etc) and when you do talk there’s a pretty obvious topic to reach for when you feel yourself coming up short things to discuss.

      -Alternatively, events where there’s not a specific subject but you know you’ll have fun even without mingling can be nice too. I joined a Meetup group (which are great for getting to know people in low-pressure environments) that’s based around trying different restaurants in the area. Sometimes I’ll get involved in a great conversation, sometimes I’ll just listen to others and enjoy the atmosphere – I like trying new places to eat regardless which makes it easier to make myself go even when I’m nervous about speaking up.

      -If you’re a homebody like me, it can also help to just get out more in general by yourself. Go have a sit-down breakfast out somewhere. Or go to a coffee shop/library for a bit and read or work on the computer. Go hang out in a park or walk around downtown. For me, this helped because I just felt weird and awkward around people in general. So getting to a place where I could sit in a crowded Starbucks and enjoy a hot chocolate without feeling like everyone was staring at/judging me was a good thing for my overall stress levels around social situations.

      -If you haven’t already, consider seeing a therapist or maybe trying some anti-anxiety medication. Things got a lot easier for me after therapy and a LOT easier when I started medication for my ADHD. Therapy helped me combat the negative thoughts that really ate at me during and after every interaction. Now even if I mess up, the embarrassment passes much more quickly and I don’t spend the whole day upset over it. It also helped me learn that negative, critical thoughts aren’t always true, and even if they are those thoughts still aren’t always worth keeping around. Sometimes you have to separate your thoughts from the rest of you; accept that the negative thought is there and you can’t force it away, but that doesn’t mean you have to listen to it if it doesn’t serve you well. That sounds kind of cheesy but helped SO much to learn and implement.

      Sorry this got really long! But seriously I could have written your post myself so I just wanted to tell you what has worked for me in relieving some of the stress. I can remember a time when just leaving the house was an ordeal because I was so anxious and knew if I embarrassed myself I’d be stressing over it for days. I’m not totally 100% comfortable with people now by any means but I can actually see myself coming very close someday and that’s a big step for me. I can go to work and come home and actually have some energy left for myself, because the simple act of dealing with people hasn’t just totally wiped me out like it used to. It gets better and easier with time and practice. And keep in mind, there are some people (even very popular, well-liked people!) who just weren’t built for small talk in general but can be really great at holding conversations once you get to know them better; if nothing else, know that you’re not alone in feeling weird about small talk and it doesn’t mean you won’t get better or find your comfort zone with it. Hope this helped a little bit! Good luck!!

    5. Fictional Butt*

      One analogy I really like is: when you have a conversation with someone, you’re building something together.

      I like this analogy for two reasons. One, it makes me feel a lot more engaged and less “oh no I’m boring this person” to imagine that this is kind of a Jenga game that we’re playing together. It becomes less about my feelings and their feelings and more about the thing we are creating.

      Two, it helps me to understand what is and isn’t a good thing to say to push the conversation forward. Just like in Jenga, you need to contribute something solid and sturdy and properly-placed if you want the conversation to hold up. A question is good, or a statement that brings the conversation in the direction you want to go, or even just a “that’s interesting, I’d love to hear more about that.” But if you just give an uninterested “huh,” or a vague, dead-end response, or if you mention something you don’t actually want to talk about, you aren’t giving your partner a good foundation to build on.

    6. oranges & lemons*

      When you know a small-talk-requiring event is imminent, I recommend planning out some topics. Read some interesting articles on neutral topics that you can mine for discussion. Think about things you can mention about the event, or if you know who will be attending, think about things you know about them that you can ask about (kids, pets, hobbies, etc). I find it’s much easier to make small talk when I’m prepared–it’s when I have to improvise that I freeze up.

      1. oranges & lemons*

        Oh, and also, you can also learn a lot by observing. Think about a person you know who is really good at small talk, and make a point of noticing what kind of things they talk about to strangers, and what their demeanour is like.

    7. Jen Erik*

      One more thought that I found helpful.

      My daughter is one of those people who is good at small talk, and her job at a time involved striking up conversations with newcomers.

      She once remarked that the first ten minutes is always awkward, you just have to persist through it in order to make a connection.
      Somehow, before that, I’d always taken in that all awkwardness was caused by my failings as a conversationalist – and I found it really helpful to think that even people who seem to find it easy may find it routinely awkward, and also that the awkwardness is (at least to some degree) caused by the situation rather than by me.

    8. HannahS*

      Three things:
      1) Ask questions and respond to their answers, either by encouraging to talk more or say something that it related/similar to what they’re talking about. There are standard questions you can ask people to get the conversation rolling. Some examples: What did you do over the weekend/any plans this weekend? How’s work/school/that extracurricular activity going? I need some recommendations, have you been watching/reading/listening to anything good lately? How are your kids/partner/parents doing? Are they enjoying the school year/new job/retirement? When they something positive, smile, nod, “wow that sounds great/so cute/like lots of fun.” When they say something negative, “Oh, that’s too bad/sad/really stressful. I’m sorry to hear it.” Think about how you might answer those questions. What did I do this weekend? “Nothing much” <– that stops the conversation. Instead, "Nothing much, I had a laid-back time. I watched ______ on Netflix. Have you seen it?" or "Nothing much. I caught up on household stuff. I made a Thai curry that I saw on Youtube and it was pretty fantastic." <– invites follow-up questions.

      2) Practice. Smile and say hello to cashiers, bus drivers, and bank tellers. In my demographic/region, the greeting is "Hey, how's it going?" or "Hi, how are ya?" Usually they'll say "Fine, you?" Practice saying, "Pretty good" or "Oh, glad to be done a long day" or "The weather is crazy out there! I heard we're in for a bad winter." See what they say! Sometimes, they'll reply to your greeting with stuff like "My shift is almost over" or "Glad it's Friday" or "How is it out there?" It's a low-stakes way to have really really small small-talk.

      3) Everyone is boring. Everyone. I have never had small talk and gone, "WOW, that was some RIVETING small talk!" Its purpose is to form relationships, not to be interesting. If I ask you how your weekend was, I don't care if you went paragliding versus lay on the couch and ate chips. If you participate in the conversation, you're showing me that you like it when I show an interest in your life, and I'll continue to do it, and the same is true if you show an interest in me. If you don't show me that, then–if I can't tell that it's because you're shy–I'll assume that you don't want to form a relationship. So don't worry about being interesting; that's not the point. Find a way to talk about your life that encourages people to engage in it.

      Example. Me. I'm in school. I study. That's it. I have no extra-curricular activities. I moved to a new city, but I haven't seen any of it because I'm so busy studying. My life right now is BORING. But when people ask how I like my city, I tell them that I've been so busy studying that I haven't seen it. Have they spent time there? What can they recommend? Yes, I like my new program, and oh, it's so interesting how they structure it, we work in small teams! It's so great! I have a mentor, he gave me some great advice to blah blah blah! What did I do this weekend? I meal planned, I made a nice soup! Carrot ginger! I love fall, because now it's soup season. Have you done anything to take advantage of the weather? etc.

    9. Stellaaaaa*

      When you observe “good” small talk at events, keep in mind that those people likely already know each other. You can’t compare your conversations with new people to conversations between coworkers or long-term acquaintances who are probably talking about other mutual acquaintances.

      It’s okay to confront a lull with “It’s been nice talking to you, let’s catch up soon” and simply walk away.

  13. Ramona Flowers*

    If you’ve read the His Dark Materials books, what would your daemon be? (Or seen the film I guess, but the film sucked.)

    I think mine would be a squirrel. They’re a bit skittish and nervous, but they also plan ahead for the future in a vaguely sensible way.

    1. Call me St. Vincent*

      I have wondered this so many times! I think mine would be a rabbit. Did you see there is a new book (or maybe just one I never saw before) by Phillip Pullman? I keep waiting for it to go on Kindle Unlimited, but I may just buy it because I’m so excited to get my hands on it!

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        Yes I did! Book of Dust – am hoping someone will buy it for me for Christmas. He also has an essay collection out called Daemon Voices.

    2. Confused Publisher*

      Just to conflate fictional worlds for a moment, my Patronus is a snowy owl. I quite like the idea of my daemon being the same.

      1. Ramona Flowers*

        I was tempted to add those too! I don’t know if mine would be the same. I might change my mind and say black cat for both.

      2. Claire (Scotland)*

        According to Pottermore my Patronus is an orangutan. I’d accept that as my daemon too. But I always thought my daemon would have settled as some type of cat. Possibly a cheetah.

        1. Ramona Flowers*

          I got Tonkinese cat. And I’m a Hufflepuff and I used to have pink hair so basically if I ever change my AAM handle it’ll be to Tonks…

          1. Ramona Flowers*

            So I lost my old Pottermore login and fancied doing the tests again anyway so I made a new one. Still Hufflepuff but my patronus came out as a white horse!

            1. Confused Publisher*

              Wow! Have you read Elizabeth Goudge’s The Little White Horse? Your Patronus made me think of that.
              If (I may be wrong) you’re in the UK, have you seen Rowling’s own drawing of Professor Sprout in the BBC programme that is accompanying the British Library exhibition? It made me wish she’d illustrated all my favourite characters.

              1. Ramona Flowers*

                No I haven’t read it, will look it up.

                I am indeed in the UK. I had missed the fact there was a series on the Beeb and am off to find it on iPlayer! Thanks!

              2. Ramona Flowers*

                Oh my god thank you, I would have missed this programme if you hadn’t mentioned it. Am now happily settling in to watch!

                1. Confused Publisher*

                  You’re very welcome! To return to your original question about daemons though, I’ve been thinking: is an elephant too large to be a daemon?

            2. Mallory Janis Ian*

              Same for me: Hufflepuff for the house and white mare for the patronus. My friend at work was watching over my shoulder as my patronus was revealed, and she initially thought it was going to be a white unicorn, in which case her stated plan was to hate me forever out of pure envy.

      3. cornflower blue*

        I got a stallion, and it’s just wrong. I’ve been a crazy cat lady since I was a baby. Pottermore, you have betrayed me!

    3. Dee-Nice*

      I’m definitely a ginger house cat. Vain, affectionate, comfort-loving. And I’m also a Hufflepuff so— PUFF PRIDE!

    4. Annie Mouse*

      I’ve always thought my spirit animal would be a wolf, but I’m not sure that a wolf wouldn’t be a bit big for a daemon.
      Given the cat currently sat snuggled next to me, maybe a tabby/tortie domestic shorthair :)

    5. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      I’d like to belive that mine is a peacock mantis shrimp. Mostly because it would be cool to carry a mantis shrimp around and it would be cool to solve my problems by being sweet at punching.

      But in reality, a horse would be more accurate. I like having having a useful job, but I can be stubborn and skittish when it comes to new things. Also I love apples and carrots :)

    6. MissDissplaced*

      Definitely a cat. Probably a Maine Coon domestic cat, and not the snow leopard of the book.

    7. Elizabeth West*

      Ooh, I haven’t gotten around to Pullman’s stuff yet but I’m still new to fantasy overall. I was a horror fan for years and am just recently branching out.
      As far as Potter, I am very Gryffindor but I have no idea what my Patronus would be. Probably an ostrich, because I have such an affinity for kicking, LOL.

      1. Belle di Vedromo*

        I found him via an interview on the radio. When he said that he was telling stories from a book in progress to his 6 year old at a restaurant, and said 6 year old bit through his drinking glass during the story telling, I had to go find one. (He reported that his son suffered no ill effects.)

    8. StubbornWombat*

      I’d probably say a wombat because they are made of stubborn and badass, but on the other hand, I had a nice talk with an occupational therapist about embracing my inner herding dog feelings without burnout (type a, very driven, very stubborn) so I might have a Blue Heeler or Border Collie ;p

      I quite like squirrels though! There’s a bunch near work and it’s fun to watch them while waiting for transit.

    9. Dr. KMnO4*

      A raven, I think. I’m a huge Tolkien fan, and ravens are friendly with the Dwarves of Erebor. If I could be any race from fantasy it would be a dwarf. Also, ravens are learners, and quite intelligent. They adapt well to various environments. I’m not good at planning, but I’m great at adapting to the situation.

    10. Kj*

      I think mine would be a cat. A friendly one, like a Maine Coon, but with a cat’s ability to be aloof when they want.

    11. Lore*

      I always wanted it to be a small owl but if I remember correctly you have to be a witch to have a bird daemon. So maybe a small monkey. Or a hedgehog.

    12. Fenchurch*

      I think mine would be a bat. They fly, but they are still mammals. They are nocturnal and tend to stick together. I like the yellow winged bat, it’s super adorable and they are one of the few species of bats that are monogamous.

  14. Eve*

    We hopefully closing on our first house this week. This week will be the 4th closing date we are shooting for in the 3 weeks since our original one.

    Anyway, a gift for the realtor? It’s been a challenging process with lots of extra inspections (sewer, electrical, 3 roof, mason) in addition to the normal ones since the house is pre-Civil War.

    We were thinking a gift certificate to a local restaurant. A gift certificate for $50 would comfortably cover 2 there, but should we do $100?

    1. Erin*

      This is thoughtful but wholly unnecessary. It’s far from the most complex the realtor has ever seen. S/he’ll get a commission and typically in or area, realtors present buyers with a gift, not vice versa.

      A sincere thank you is perfect. And good reviews/referrals are the BEST gift for someone like this.

      1. Kimberlee, Esq.*

        Totally agree. We had a complex office-space purchase and after it was all over, the realtor bought us a macaron tree, and it made me really happy. It would never occur to me to give them a gift, especially since that would make it sort of a gift exchange, which seems strange.

    2. Ice Bear*

      Remember – your realtor is making a lot of money from this sale. If anything, they would be giving YOU the gift.

    3. The Cosmic Avenger*

      I think any amount is fine as a token of appreciation, as it will be on top of a commission that dwarfs it, so it’s more about the sentiment than the amount. And let them know that you will tell anyone who will listen how helpful they were; glowing recommendations are worth a lot more than a gift certificate to those in service professions.

    4. Book Lover*

      Assuming you are in the US, they are getting a ton of money already. Just say thanks and tell them you will leave positive reviews on Facebook/Zillow, whatever.

    5. Eve*

      Thanks everyone. I know he is making money but I’d still feel better about getting him a small gift. He was a referral to me so I would definitely pass his name along and have told him so already.

    6. S.I. Newhouse*

      We were in the same boat as you, Eve. We realize that gifts normally flow the opposite way, but our broker really went above and beyond in an absolutely terrible process. After debating it, we ended up baking her cookies and giving her about a $20 bottle of wine, and she was *extremely* appreciative.

  15. Rookie pup mom*

    Howdy AAM! We got an 8 month old pup from the shelter three weeks ago and I’m seeking some training advice/tips. He’s an Australian Cattledog mix and currently in semi-private puppy class 1x/week but – ugh – my household will take any tips on the following. I’ve been living on Google for training help and there is so much conflicting info.
    1. Cat chasing/herding is the biggest – we have two cats and my older one will swat at him when annoyed but I know the dog stresses him out. My younger cat is completely terrified. Once the cats jump down from one of the many barstool barricades we have everywhere, the dog goes to sniff them and they run, which then he follows/chases. His tail is wagging and he likes to play with other dogs so maybe he doesn’t make the distinction between cat and dog? But my cats have taken to the basement behind the safety of a baby gate bc of the dog and I feel terrible. We do try to keep him on a leash inside when they venture out and he seems extra energetic. We have lots of elevated/safe spaces for the cats and distract him with treats but any other tips would be great. My husband and I are sleeping in two separate rooms right now, cat room and dog room to keep everyone happy but he just left for nine days and that’s not a long-term solution. Pup is in a crate during the day and has a lot of anxiety about it from his previous life so I’ve been avoiding a crate at night.
    2. Accidents – He’s housebroken but has peed in the house twice this week for the first time. Just in front of us, not feeling bad. From the first day, he wakes us up around 630 a.m. with a nudge to the face to go out but these two incidents have been at random times. What are you supposed to do about accidents from a housebroken dog? Growing up, I feel like we were told to put their nose in it but feel like that’s not ok advice anymore…?
    3. Humping – I’ve always had girl dogs growing up so this is new to me and appearantly I’m a prude. He’s not terrible about it but has one stuffed animal that he’s subtly started to do that to this week. I also saw him attempt it at the dog park a few times just this week too. Help!

    1. Lauren R*

      -I don’t have any cats so can’t give personal experience on the first one. You may have your work cut out for you there, and I’d recommend discussing that issue with your vet to see if they have any advice! If I’m remembering right, I think the ACD breed overall can be pretty headstrong and stubborn, and hard to handle without proper training (which you’ve already gotten started on so that’s good!) so that could make it especially difficult. It can definitely be hard in general to have a dog with a prey drive and cats in the same house. But since he’s so young, maybe he’ll get used to them and the excitement will wear off. Also sometimes the cats just end up teaching the dog better on their own – if they ever actually catch up to the cat, I doubt they’ll be doing a victory lap over the experience and will hopefully be leaving them be at that point. Avoiding that altogether is obviously the goal, but since he’s not fully grown yet, I do think your cats are likely able to defend themselves from the puppy if they were ever really in danger.

      Accidents: When he has an accident in front of you, immediately say “no” loudly (so you get his attention), and take him right to the spot he actually needs to use. Don’t rub his nose in it for sure and don’t try to punish him/correct him after the fact, because once it’s over and done they generally can’t make the connection between the accident on the floor and themselves. Praise him a LOT when he goes outside and when he lets you know he needs to go out. Treats galore!! Don’t view it as him trying to get under your skin or anything when he goes inside. He’s just a puppy and even very well housetrained dogs can have accidents in a new place. My first dog was with me for 15 years, we moved when she was 12 and it took her a couple days to figure out the new system even after years of being perfectly fine with her housetraining. There’s a good resource on housetraining on Petfinder I believe and I’ll try to link you to it!

      He may also just be marking his territory and that will probably also be helped by the method above and also just with time/adjustment to his surroundings. In the meantime, get a carpet cleaner that’s designed for pet stains as other cleaners sometimes have ingredients that just trigger the dog to mark that spot again.

      -Is your dog neutered yet? Once you get that done, it could likely solve the humping issue. If he is, I’d imagine it’s just puppy behavior and wanting to play. He may grow out of it soon if you don’t reward it with attention, and then give lots of attention/treats when he stops. A stuffed animal probably isn’t a big deal if he just wants to play that way but it’s obviously not great to try it with other dogs who may react badly (or whose owners will at least). It’s another thing to ask your vet about!

      Congrats on your new dog!!! It can be really stressful to bring a new pet home especially when the existing pets don’t seem to approve. But you clearly care a lot for your pup and want the best for him, and when you all adjust I’m sure it will be so worth it to have gone through this time! Dogs are amazing and I know yours will have such a great life with you. Good luck with everything!

      1. Lauren R*

        This site is great and has resources for lots of different lifestages/behavior problems/etc: http://3lostdogs.com/new-dog/

        And here’s some pages on the specific issues you’re having, from sites that would probably have other useful info for you!




      2. Lauren R*

        These two articles in particular helped a lot when I got my current dog a little over a year ago. I’d had my first dog for 15 years before she passed and it was really sad and frustrating at times to have this new dog that came with a whole new set of problems and habits, and who regardless of all the good stuff just wasn’t Cassie and seemed to constantly remind me of her absence. I love her SO much now but at first I just had so many moments of REALLY wanting my first dog back more than anything and feeling like I’d made a horrible mistake trying to get another. And she was 12 at the time I adopted, so not even any wild puppy behavior to content with making it worse to manage.

        This helped me feel less alone and awful and overwhelmed in those moments of thinking “Wow this was the WORST decision ever”. Hopefully it helps you too in moments of frustration:


      3. Dear liza dear liza*

        Lots of good advice, although I don’t agree with correcting the dog for peeing in the house. Twice in three weeks, in a new house, doesn’t seem odd to me. He may have just gotten excited or scared or confused. I’d set him up for success by reinforcing housebreaking, by going into puppy mode. Take him out frequently, and if you see him sniffing, immediately go outside. And yes, throw him a little potty party! I totally agree with clean up; an enzyme killer like Natures Miracle is essential.

        Humping: it’s not sexual, it’s excitement (often in play) and can be dominance. Female dogs can hump, too. When he humps another dog at the dog park, take him off the other dog and redirect. Don’t yell st him, just calmly say no and throw a toy or something. Some dogs do hump less after being fixed, but training is often necessary.

        And, yes, congrats on your new friend, and thank you for rescuing! Herding breeds are super smart and athletic. You might think about doing a dog sport after basic training is over.

        1. AvonLady Barksdale*

          +1 on the humping. My dog is 7 and neutered, yet sometimes he has mounting “issues”. These usually happen when he gets really, really excited. It’s play behavior, but it shouldn’t be encouraged because some dogs don’t like it and it can lead to fights. Liza is right; redirect, and if he keeps doing it, it’s time to leave the dog park or your friend’s house or wherever you are. When our bud mounts too much at daycare, he gets a few stern warnings and then a time-out in the kennel if necessary, just to calm down and contain all of his joyful ridiculousness.

        2. Natalie*

          I think it’s still worth correcting him even though he’s young. You obviously shouldn’t yell or anything, but a quick “nope!” and moving him outside immediately is perfectly fine.

    2. Mason*

      Animals crave consistency and confident leadership. If the dog is having accidents, they still need more consistent walking. With a puppy you build in a really solid routine and they’ll adjust.

      As for your cats, be the confident leader of the house. They’re going to have to interact, so let them sort it out. If there’s a way the cats like to play, you could try and incorporate the puppy into that? But there’s no reason to keep the separate unless you want that to be your new normal.

    3. Opalescent Tree Shark*

      I don’t actually know if this advice will be useful or doable, but I’ve been around a lot of herding dogs, and the only solution I’ve seen really work for unwanted herding is giving them another job. Our aussie growing up would try to herd my grandparents horses, which we definitely didn’t want. We taught him not to (mostly through a combination of reprimanding him and him getting kicked), but also praising him for patroling the fields and herding out other animals (mostly deer). Once he knew that his job was to protect the horses from the deer and turkeys and not to herd the deer, he never chased one again. I imagine you don’t have other animals your dog can herd, but any other job should work. For my current dog (who’s a mutt of unknown origin but definitely is a herder), she likes to herd other dogs at the dog park, which is fine, but we try to give her a job at home. Currently we are working on cleaning up her toys as her job. She basically gets to herd her toys by going around the house and finding all of them, picking them up, and bringing them to me. It sometimes results in hard toys being dropped on your face while you are tryng to nap on the couch, but its better than her being destructive.

      1. StubbornWombat*

        So very much this. I grew up with Heelers and ours needed jobs. Mandy would rearrange furniture when bored XD Ours had 3 kids and 2 cats to herd (one was her buddy, the other one avoided her) and a big yard. But Mom’s rule 1 with herding breeds was always “be more stubborn than the dog” – extra true re heelers. Also be prepared for his first good shed – double coated dogs shed double!

        Opalescent Tree Shark, I love that as a job for the dog! That’s a really good way to stimulate her and engage with her!

    4. fposte*

      You got cats and a herding dog puppy. The chasing, at least initially, is pretty much inevitable. You’re doing the right thing by giving the cats lots of elevated escape spots; leashing him and working on his response to commands in the face of distraction is a good maneuver, since what you really need is to divert him. Tire him out as much as possible in general (always good advice with a young dog)–if you have a backyard, run him till his tongue is dragging–and give him lots of internal distractions like balls and chew toys and puzzle toys and make a fuss over him when he chooses those as a diversion activity. The thing is, cat chasing is super-fun and therefore inherently rewarding, especially for a young dog without much chill or ability to refocus; it’s tough to convince him otherwise, so you have to be patient with him as you teach him ways that reward him more.

      I’m with people who say that peeing twice in the house isn’t likely to be that big a deal with a new dog. How long had it been since he’d been out each time? Did he seem to be relieving himself or was it more like marking? If it had been under an hour or so, it’s worth checking with the vet, since there could be something physical going on; it’s also worth considering if there’s anything going on in the spots where he peed that . Otherwise, up your “taking the dog out” game, make sure you clean the spots with enzymatic cleaner, and take him outside the moment you see any peeing start. It’s not that significant that it happened in front of you–shame is not actually a big component of dog obedience, and he pees right in front of you outside, right?

      Basically, you got a goofball puppy, and he’s behaving like a goofball puppy. Channel your parents’ patience from when you were about eleven and occasionally knuckleheaded :-).

    5. LCL*

      Somebody needs to walk puppy in the morning. He is a teenager and full of energy.
      Is he crated all day? Or does he get a mid day break?

    6. Victoria Nonprofit (USA)*

      A few thoughts:

      1) Your instincts are right — if you’re crating him all day it’s really not fair to crate him at night, too. But maybe he needs to stay in an x-pen (like a play pen) for a while, or somewhere else that he can be closed off from the cats.

      2) As a herding breed puppy, he needs way more exercise and mental stimulation than other dogs. Like, a lot — multiple long brisk walks everyday PLUS fetch PLUS tug games PLUS backyard time. It’s a lot. And mental challenge is really really important. Buy the book “101 Tricks for Dogs” and work your way through it with a few 15 minute training blocks every day; make him work for everything you give him (sit before he gets petted; serve dinner in a provlem-solving puzzle; etc.); hide toys and treats around the house and teach him to find them; etc.

      3) All dogs, including adults that have been housebroken for years, have accidents when they go through change. But since he’s pretty young I’d recalibrate your thinking and consider him not fully housetrained — which means taking a step back in house training protocol. Keep him on a leash in the house (which should give the cats a break too), take him out on a regular schedule, do the celebration party with treats and attention when he goes in the right place. Basically don’t give him the opportunity to have an accident, and give him lots of joy when he does it right.

      4) If you can afford it and if it’s available in your town look into “puppy bootcamp.” We paid $600 to send the pup to all day training (she came home at night) for two weeks. She learned a few things (sit, down; other puppies also did some leash walking training but she was super afraid of the outdoors so they literally just worked on helping her be able to walk through an open door) but mostly it was about socializing… and she was exhausted. She came home every day and was the perfect puppy at night because she’d been exercising her body and mind all day. It was worth it just to get through those first few weeks when we wanted to throw her out the window. :)

      Good luck and have fun! Puppies are life-ruiners, but that’s why they make them so cute… so we don’t murder them. And happily they turn into dogs in the end.

    7. Persephone*

      Yay for cattle dog crosses! My aunt told me mine would have heaps of energy. Me: “nah! I mean, look at my retriever, she sleeps all the time!” My aunt: laughs for eternity. My dog: has been chasing the pool cleaning robot for two hours straight with no signs of stopping.

      Anyway, my pup was abused as a baby; I’ve had her from three months old and it’s taken her until now to accept some guys. She’s terrified of guys. We also live next to racehorses, and herding is her favourite thing to do (she would herd us on walks at 3 months old. I came outside once to see her riding the golden retriever like a sheep). The main thing I recommend is finding a good trainer and sticking to that program religiously. Cattle dogs are smart as, and they’ll pick up on things. The key is finding what they respond to. My pup is a glutton, so you bring food out and she’s all yours. Finding someone who does force-free training is a must. I remember my dog’s trainer explaining that re: herding, it’s an instinct, and you need to slowly train them to respond to you over the instinct. Pup used to herd the chooks, but now she responds to a very loud “LEAVE IT” or “NADA MAS” when she gets stalky with the chook. We’re still working on horses.

      Humping? As a kid, I had a female dog who did the same; two retrievers, both female, and you’d come outside to see one retriever looking mournful as the other merrily humped her. Distraction worked for us there (I remember my father yelling out the window in Spanish: “BE A LADY, MY GOODNESS, THAT IS YOUR SISTER”, but I’d recommend talking to your trainer about a viable long term solution as this retriever did it all her life. The other two dogs I’ve had never bothered with it.

      OP, are you in Australia? If you are, and are in NNSW, I can put you in touch with an excellent trainer.

    8. Emac*

      Check out Zac George on Youtube – he’s a trainer with a ton of great videos (though I have to put in the caveat that he basically does a commercial for his sponsor(s) at the start of each video, which is annoying).

    9. Rookie pup mom*

      Thanks everyone for the responses! You are all wonderful – lots of great resources and tips. I read that his breed could require up to three hours of exercise a day. Luckily, we taught him to play fetch and have a dog park across the street and an enclosed park and bike path in our neighborhood. I’m also going to see if he likes puppy camp – a few days a week spent running will be worth it. He likes to herd the other dogs at the dog park while they fetch. I’m definitely going to try and teach him to put away (herd) his toys. To answer some questions, he is neutered and we have a dog walker come midday to break up his day in the crate. Persephone – Not in Australia :-) although I pretend in my head that the dog has an Australian accent when he’s being stubborn.

      1. Persephone*

        Puppy camp would be EXCELLENT. And it’s a great tool for socialising them, which worked wonders with my one’s anxiety. Also, love the accent part – whenever I’m imagining my dog talking, she’s prim and proper, but goes full bogan when stubborn. “OI NAH HUMAN.”

        Not sure why. If anyone’s wondering what a full bogan is, it’s verrrrry broad Australian. Doggo has her Kath and Kim moments, too, for slight bogan. Bless her. (And someone fetch me the help I clearly need.)

    10. SRB*

      For the cats, we taught our dog (corgi, also a herding dog) early “leave it”. Used positive training (clicker and treats, I’m sure you can find guides in google or ask your trainer). We had to start veeery small. First just leaving something inedible in the ground. Then once he understood, “leave it” to a treat. “Leave it” to a favorite bone. A fun toy. Eventually working up to higher value things. Squirrels (still a challenge) other dogs (omg bffs!) and the cats but he is 2 now and mostly listens.

      1. SRB*

        Also to add. This works for my dog but ymmv. While he is still a small puppy, just picking him up and removing him from the stimulation of the environment (cats, whatever he is humping) can break hus attention long enough to get him to focus on you and recognize that a certain behavior means that oh no I can’t play with fun thing anymore ): ): ): Not in a mean way, just a “ok kiddo time to cool off a second, cat doesn’t want you right now. Now that you’re looking at me, leave it and oh look a yummy treat!” The equivalent when he is on leash is just walking away when he humps a dog. But I assume he isn’t on leash it your house w the cats.

  16. Shayland*

    Wow it’s open really early this time.

    My health hasn’t been great as of late and I ended up deciding to wash my service dog after he was threatened. I can’t continue to train him do to my PTSD and neurological issues acting up and I no longer have the faith that he or I can make it as a team.

    Thanks AAM for all the support.

    1. Caledonia*

      Oh no that is sad but understandable because you need him for a reason. What happens next – do you get a replacement dog?

      1. Shayland*

        He’s going to be rehomed. I’m looking for an adopted who’s interested in participating in American Kennel Club sports with him. He’d excel at pretty much all of them. And then I’m filling out all these forms to get a dog from a program. I don’t have it in me to in tandem train again. It will be a two year wait. I’m not sure what I’ll do for those two years, but my dad is coming to stay with me in less than a week to help me out.

  17. CatCat*

    Can anyone recommend any exercise videos on YouTube? I’m looking to change up my routine a bit and would like some recommendations.

    I do Yoga with Adriene and love that.

    I’d like videos where I don’t have to make transitions from standing to being on the floor. It’s fine for me yoga, but I’d really like some standing only options.

    1. nep*

      What type of workouts are you looking for? With or without weights? Cardio or more resistance training?
      For full-body workouts that use minimal equipment, you could try Melissa Bender — though I know she does some exercises on the floor. Not sure whether a lot of up and down. (She’s got full workouts — nicely categorized — on her website benderfitnessDOTcom.) Christine Salus has some great real-time workouts (tough, challenging) on YouTube, too.

      1. CatCat*

        I’d be interested in any types! I have resistance bands and handles weights that I could use. Just looking for things I can possibly add into my weekly exercises, especially since I’ll probably do more in the living room rather than outside as the weather gets colder/damper.

        I’ll check out what you’ve suggested!

        1. nep*

          That’s great. You can do a lot of effective and satisfying exercises at home. Resistance bands are good.
          On Instagram — Jaada Peterson has some really nice exercises and combinations. And she’s just lovely…so positive and uplifting. Also on Instagram My Trainer Carmen has some great exercises. Granted on IG you don’t have the full workout in real-time, but some suggestions for good moves.

    2. Rookie Manager*

      As I started reading my first thought was yoga with Adriene! That’s the only one I know though so can’t help you any further.

    3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I haven’t done any of her videos in awhile because my current home setup isn’t amenable to it, but I like Blogilates, although I’m not sure how many of her videos are standing-only.

      1. Parenthetically*

        Thirding Fitness Blender. SO many options at all fitness levels, workout lengths, intensities, impact levels, etc.

      2. HannahS*

        Yeah, I also like Fitness Blender. They don’t have music, so you can listen to whatever you want at the same time, and they emphasize going at your own pace and form over speed and “push yourself!” Also the narration is a super-low key voiceover.

      3. nep*

        Fitness Blender — so many workouts. They’re good. Also second Popsugar Fitness — good workouts, and they feature guests who bring different styles. I really like Anna Renderer’s ease, humility, and positivity.
        This is reminding me — Jessica Smith is great too.

      4. nep*

        Second Fitness Blender — so many workouts. They are good. I like how PopSugar Fitness features various trainers who show different styles, and I really like Anna Renderer’s ease, humility, and positive vibe.
        This is reminding me — Jessica Smith is great too.

    4. Allegra*

      I love Jessica Smith videos on Youtube. She’s got terrific energy and I prefer her to FitnessBlender – she uses music, which helps my energy, and she gives really clear instructions. And her dog Peanut often joins in! The channel is jessicasmithtv and there’s a lot of variety of types of workouts and time. I found her when I was looking for seated workouts due to an injury (normally I do taekwondo) and have kept using her videos off and on ever since.

  18. Cristina in England*

    Anyone read The Tools by Phil Stutz and Barry Michels? It’s a set of practical tools kind of similar to CBT in that some of them are thought-stopping techniques. They’re meant to help people deal with fear and anger, etc, in the moment. It came out a few years ago along with a short-run podcast. I liked it but haven’t stuck with it.

    Anyone else find a good tool then fail to use it?

    1. Anon for this*

      Yeah, progressive muscle relaxation. (Lots of youtubes and mp3’s on Internet if anyone’s interested.) When I do it faithfully once or twice a day, my anxiety is so much more manageable. But it gets boring. I “forget”. I don’t have time. Any then the anxiety starts ramping itself up again until I’m having panic attacks in the grocery store. I got back on the program last week and hope this time I can stick with it.

      1. Cristina in England*

        I hope you can stick with it! I should probably read some of Gretchen Rubin’s stuff about developing habits intentionally. As I wrote last week, my daughter has been very challenging to me and she is driving me crazy, every day. I know The Tools can help but I need to remember to apply it!

  19. Out of coffee*

    Why. Is. Writing. So. HARD.


    (Sorry, major writer’s block here and resorting to banging at keys at random just to fill up the blank space on a new page so that it would STOP MOCKING ME with its blankety blank blankness.)

    Damn cursor. Stop BLINKING AT ME.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      Oh my god, I feel you!

      I’ve hit a wall and I’m struggling to get 500 words down on the page in a period of time I could normally write 2000. It feels like every word is a struggle and it sounds so stupid!

      And the stupid cursor. I swear it was made to blink just to mock us.

        1. Elizabeth West*

          I don’t know about Out of coffee, but for me, it’s when I can’t think what I want to say. Not searching for a word or a phrase, but full-on not knowing where to start or where to continue. I can usually pull out of it by doing a bunch of what I call throat-clearing—just randomly typing whatever comes into my head first to clear the cobwebs away. Sometimes I have to take a break or work on something else and chew it over in my head a little.

          1. Laura*

            That’s not writer’s block. That’s just a normal part of the process. You did a detailed outline, right? If you didn’t, go and do one now. If you did, reread it. That may well shake the next piece of the plot free. You might have drifted off course and need to correct. You might need to go for a walk. Try to avoid ‘chewing it over’ so much as seeing what logically comes next. I jump in and out of reality TV a lot to get that shaking-free thing going. But you should have the bones of your plot very clearly in your mind the whole time.

            I would really try to avoid the phrase ‘writer’s block’. I don’t know any professional novelist who uses it and I’ve been doing this for 25 years. It’s creative, but many jobs with deadlines are creative, and that phrase always sounds to me like something to hide behind. When you need to finish your book to get your delivery advance, you tend not to suffer from it. No one ever talks about designer’s block, for instance.

            1. Ramona Flowers*

              I once went to a talk by Philip Pullman where he talked about spending whole days punching extra holes in his writing paper.

            2. Jules the First*

              Designers absolutely get designer block….unblocking them so they can get it done before the deadline is part of my job, and every studio I’ve ever worked with has had someone who did this as part of their job.

              I wonder if the difference between professional novelists who don’t get writer’s block and “amateur” writers who do is that professionals have someone like me (your agent? your editor?) who helps unblock you when it hits?

              1. Elizabeth West*

                I think the difference is that we sit down and write anyway, as Laura pointed out. Hence my mention of the throat-clearing that gets me unstuck. She seemed to have blown right by that part of my answer.

                But sometimes you need to step away for a few and think. Or not think, whatever your process is. Not every writer or designer works exactly the same way. Hell, Beethoven went for long-ass walks every day and I’m quite sure he was working over compositions in his mind while he did it. I bet the walks were longer when he was stuck.

            3. Ask a Manager* Post author

              I don’t know, I’ve written professionally every day for years (both here and elsewhere, and including with deadlines for a book contract looming over me) and I still have times where I feel completely blocked. As Elizabeth says, you sit down and write anyway because you have to, but I think feeling blocked (and completely unmotivated) is a real thing.

              1. Elizabeth West*

                Yep. If it were easy, everybody would do it. ;)

                I only managed to squeeze out 18 words yesterday and I literally just got done writing 1,395 a few minutes ago. And I’m still raring to go! After I eat, because I’m hungry!

    2. nep*

      On a few occasions, it helped me to sit down as if to write a letter to a friend. I’d write Dear So-and-So and start writing. (Letter not to be sent, of course — it was just the format that helped break the block.)

    3. Mimmy*

      I think that’s why I sometimes don’t write when, deep down, I really do want to write. That blinking cursor would make me twitch too, lol.

  20. Sweaty Sweaterson*

    Hey all! I know there were some comments earlier this week but does anyone have any tips for overly sweaty palms? It’s gearing up to summer in my neck of the world and my palms are insane. I keep a little desk fan as it’s hard to write on paper! I don’t want to touch my partner (but I desperately do). A gross. Any tips or hints? Does Botox work? I know about cold glass of water, rubbing on clothes etc. I need next level I think! TIA

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I honestly have no idea if this will work but what about talcum powder?

      I get you wouldn’t want a cloud of it around you but maybe apply it to cotton wool or a cloth and rub it on your palms. Plus, the smell of talc is quite nice IMO.

    2. Fellow Sweater*

      Glycopyrrolate. I take it for my hyperhydrosis and it has been life changing. Literally. Botox and Rx antiperspirant weren’t good options for me because I sweat all over (and that Rx antiperspirant stung my skin). I have found that many doctors may not know about Glycopyrrolate for sweating since the medicine is actually for stomach ulcers.

      1. Sweaty Anon*

        I was just coming here to write that! Has completely changed my life with no side effects and a low dosage. I cannot recommend highly enough. Nothing else worked for me and I was a constant sweater.

    3. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      Sage is reputed to help, but apparently you need to get a specific kind or else you could risk other side effects.

  21. Removed posts*

    Is it not possible to just freeze commenting for a post/thread instead of deleting the entire thing? Sometimes I’d come across the posts declaring something had been deleted (and a reason given) but without the post or replies it’s impossible to understand what would cross the line so terribly. There are certainly comments left up that are unpleasant or so argumentative it makes one wonder if they’re posted for the sake of being contrary, yet they’re still there.

    1. Ask a Manager* Post author

      There’s no way to freeze commenting for a single comment thread. (For the whole post, yes, but not a single thread.) But I’ve only removed one post in the history of the site (as far as I can recall) so that shouldn’t be a thing you’re coming across very much.

      To your second question: I’m one person, and I don’t manage this site full-time. I don’t see every comment, so it’s definitely true that my moderation won’t be 100% consistent. I’d need to read every comment to be able to do that, and that’s not realistic; most days there are over 1,000 comments here.

      Related to this, when I do remove an over-the-line violation of the commenting rules, I’m always unsure whether I should remove the responses to it or not when people have taken the time to write out long, thoughtful replies. Sometimes I remove them, and other times I’ve left them because I think they’re valuable even on their own without the original post they were addressing. But if it’s confusing to people when I do that, I can certainly modify how I handle that.

      1. fposte*

        I suspect Removed means “posts” as “comments that start their own threads” rather than your own original posts. That does seem to be a common way for us to go astray :-).

        I don’t particularly care about consistency and remain fine with getting deleted when I’ve wandered off topic–however, I do think that leaving a note at least sometimes is really helpful in reminding all readers that pruning happens.

      2. Ask a Manager* Post author

        But I’ve only removed one post in the history of the site (as far as I can recall) so that shouldn’t be a thing you’re coming across very much.

        I just went to check if this was right, and the number is actually three! This one after I received multiple credible reports from others involved in the incident that the facts reported in the letter were incorrect (and that the letter was causing lots of drama in their small community), this one, and this one.

        1. fposte*

          Hasn’t there also been at least one non-letter one where you removed the whole post without a placeholder? The one I vaguely remember wasn’t anything dramatic; I think you’d just posted out of a bit of an impulse on something peripheral and response was a little puzzled.

  22. Foreign Octopus*

    No spoilers please!!!

    I’m halfway through Stranger Things 2 and oh my god I’m loving it!

    I am low key in love with Hopper. I don’t know what it is about him but I’m seriously digging it.

    Again, no spoilers!!

    1. SpiderLadyCEO*

      OMG Hopper is my favorite!!!!!! I loved this season and seeing all the kid’s moms! Lucas’s sister is also great, haha.

      1. kas*

        Lol I found Lucas’ sister very annoying. I saw online that many seem to hate Max but I like her character, I just can’t stand her stepbrother.

        1. Foreign Octopus*

          Yeah, I thought I wouldn’t like Max but I actually really like her character. You’re right though. Her stepbrother is awful.

        2. many bells down*

          I don’t think it’s Max people hate so much as that the show doesn’t give her anything to DO. She just gets to stand around while the boys argue, mostly. She was underutilized as a character.

      2. CatCat*

        Haha! I also loved the Lucas’ little sister. Probably because of I was an annoying little sister myself :-D

    2. Overeducated*

      I liked Hopper a lot until he crossed some lines yelling at a kid. I know he was doing it out of fear and love but he said things that went too far and I was surprised by how differently I viewed him.

      I feel really bad for Will! He’s has a long bad run of it.

      1. Foreign Octopus*

        Really? That’s interesting. I felt the opposite. Yeah, it was uncomfortable to watch but I totally got where he was coming from. It’s not just Eleven who’s in danger but him as well, and she couldn’t stay in the house? I get that she wanted to go out and see Mike and probably stretch her legs but that whole scene actually felt really real and natural to me.

        1. SpiderLadyCEO*

          I also felt the opposite. It reminded me a lot of my arguments with my Dad when I was that age, haha. I thought it was real and touching and sweet, and went a long ways to show the unique and individual challenges of trying to take care of El.

            1. Elizabeth West*

              This. We all knew why he was doing it and it wasn’t just to be an ass. Besides, I like that he loses his temper and yells and says very blunt, sometimes hurtful things. It makes him seem more real.

    3. Emily*

      I’ve only watched two episodes so far, but I’m excited to see more when I have the time!

      Nancy has always been one of my favorites; I’m looking forward to her development and a little bit worried about her relationship with Steve (who I mostly like – I feel like he really cleaned up his act by the end of the first season and clearly cares about Nancy).

      1. Merci Dee*

        Nancy has turned out to be the most amazing bad-ass. If I had been in high school with her, I would definitely have wanted her on my side.

      2. So Very Anonymous*

        I interrupted my bingewatching of S5 of The Americans to watch Stranger Things 2, and I keep imagining a spinoff/mashup where Paige and Nancy meet in college.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Steve is the MAN – love that character who went from a side jerk last season, but redeemed in the end, to the Steve of this season.

      Also like what they did with Bob – I would have totally expected the story one way but nope, they played it straight.

      Finally, there was one scene in one of the first three episodes where Paul Reiser’s makeup was REALLY off on the face and lips and it was highly distracting. But I totally fan-girl squeed at an Aliens reference much later.

      1. Fiennes*

        Steve is awesome. I shipped/enjoyed Jonathan & Nancy more in season 1, but Steve honestly was the most interesting and sympathetic of the three this time around.

      1. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

        I know this show was up for casting awards last season, but wowza – Billy was in some angles Rob Lowe from St Elmos Fire and in other angles Kiefer Sutherland from Lost Boys. Wasn’t keen on the character but the casting was great if they were going for audience call-back!

    5. Foreign Octopus*

      And I’m done!!!!

      Oh my god, what an emotional roller coaster that was.

      I don’t think I’ve ever cried so much during a season of one show.

      I didn’t much care for episode 7, it seemed a bit of a filler piece that wasn’t really needed but it did introduce a nice new look for Eleven, which made for a great entrance in the next episode.

      Steve Harrington should be protected at all costs. He’s like a doting, exasperated mum to those kids and the scene where he wakes up in the car is just hilarious!

      That last scene at the snowball with Dustin…oh my god, my heart nearly broke. He was so excited and it just didn’t happen for him. Thank the stars for Nancy.

      But Hopper and Eleven are my favourite. Every single scene with them this season was just amazing. And the last one where they’re making their stand (visually stunning, kudos to the special effects team) was so touching. I just want them to live happily together in the woods eating eggos and learning new words. That is literally all I want.

      Also, RIP our brave warrior who won’t be making it to season three. You were a nerdy delight and I’ll miss you.

      1. Elizabeth West*

        I liked the Eleven episode–it made sense for her to go see her mum after she found the box. How she got there was a bit iffy, though she could have figured it out from watching so much TV. And it gave her a chance to work through a bit of that justifiable rage and realize she didn’t want to be an instrument of death; she wanted to be with her friends and Hopper. I hope Kali shows up again later. I kind of liked her, and I’d like to see her have a good outcome as well.

        Poor Dustin. That scene gave me flashbacks and they were not pretty. Nancy did exactly the right thing. And I agree with you about Steve–there were a couple of moments I thought they were going to take him from us.

        I still don’t know how I feel about Jonathan. In a way, I wish they’d left that just a friendship. But changing the dynamic introduces some conflict that will make the story interesting–I just don’t want them to saddle Nancy with a tired old torn-between-two-lovers thing.

        I can’t WAIT to see what happens with Billy. That confrontation with his dad made me feel a tiny bit sorry for him and I didn’t want to! Noooo! He seems tamed for now, but I don’t think he’ll stay that way. I don’t think he’ll experience the same kind of growth Steve did, but I hope he doesn’t end up just a throwaway bully. Since they spent so much time on him and Max, I doubt it. I’d like to see him stand up to his dad.

      2. Parenthetically*

        Agreed on all counts — although I did enjoy the emotional break of episode 7 before the intensity of the last two episodes — especially re: precious angel Steve Harrington, that car scene had us in stitches.

        And I actually do not have words for Hopper/Elle. I’m just a human heart-eye emoji of pure adoration.

    1. Lauren R*

      I’m in the US and have the US Office available! I’m not sure if it shows up in other countries though. I believe there are ways to get around country restrictions though if you Google around for that fix; I’ve never done it myself.

    2. Anion*

      If you’re in the UK, Netflix stopped showing the US Office sometime last year, if memory serves. They had it for a long time, and I watched it a lot, lol, and then one day after an Office-free month or two I went to watch and it was gone.

      I put in a request for it on their website, which probably doesn’t/won’t matter much but it’s worth doing anyway. (There’s a place where you can request shows/movies.)

  23. I am still Furious!!*

    My waiting game continues. STBEX called (saw the blocked number, called him back) and said the cats will need more food in the next few weeks, that he saw his attorney, a letter is en route back to my attorney, that he “has a job lined up but won’t start until January” (yeah, where have I heard that before), was trying to get something part time because he needs more money…you get the drift. I cut him off, told him to make sure to tell me when the cat food is needed and goodbye.

    I need to point out, in the original letter, it was so important that he continue on my health insurance, he had to go to the doctor, needed his 7 or 8 prescriptions refilled, and surprise, no EOB’s on the insurance website nor were there prescriptions filled at the pharmacy. This was 7 weeks ago. Typical.

    As for me, I’m going out and about this weekend, a short trip to visit with my best friend from Jr/Sr high school overnight tonight, then to a farm tomorrow where they shoot civil war ordinance, and back to my new home tomorrow evening. I’m taking Monday off as a vacation day, and hope to just regroup a bit before going back to the “w” place on Tuesday. It will be good to get out of the house.

    So now, just have to wait to see what STBEX wants to go away. At this point, it feels like one of those credit card commercials, like, this costs so much, this costs more, but this is priceless. I can’t wait to get that final piece of paper in my hand.

    1. Rookie Manager*

      That final bit of paper is priceless. Just keep reminding yourself of that. Chin up, the end is in sight.

    2. Look What You Made Me Do*

      STBEX sounds like a deeply frustrating person. I am frustrated on your behalf. Hoping for you to be finally free of him sooner than you think and without too much trouble.

    3. Dan*

      One thing that may help is to try and learn to shrug off his theatrics. It will do wonders for your mental state if you can get to a point where you just let it roll off your back. My ex would use guilt every chance she got; I had to learn to just let it go. Hell, she would even try and make *me* feel guilty for having a job. WTF?

      The light at the end of May be sooner than you think. I know that for me, the final paper was an afterthought. The big dates were signing the property settlement agreement, her moving out, and me transferring over the assets. That happened within three months of splitting up.

      After that, no more ex. Remember, your ex can’t pay for a lawyer, so there’s only so much he can do to drag this out.

    1. Ramona Flowers*

      We have an Ikea storage box in our living room just on the floor by the TV. I was going to put it somewhere but I assembled it and suddenly a cat appeared and jumped in it and it’s been his ever since!

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I brought home a hutch from my parents’ house a couple weekends ago and I can’t put anything in it because it’s suddenly become the popular hangout. I went in one day and there was a cat on each shelf! (It has three shelves.)

          1. Junior Dev*

            I had a neighbor cat meowing at my door a couple weeks ago. He was very friendly and tried to run in my apartment. If I wasn’t careful I would have had an extra cat!

    2. Foreign Octopus*

      This took me a while to realise you were talking about Alison’s cat and not the biblical Eve!

      I was trying to figure out when Eve had said that in the bible.

    3. Jessen*

      I always wondered about people who buy cat beds. In my experience something soft inside a box works just as well.

      1. Merci Dee*

        Pffffft, forget the cat bed. My cat just takes over =my= bed. Because, of course, his tiny 10-pound heiny needs a whole full-size bed to stretch out on.

        1. MsChanandlerBong*

          My husband and I are looking to upgrade from a queen to a king for this exact reason. During the summer, the cats are too warm to sleep with us. Once the temp drops, we end up with about 70 pounds’ worth of cats in the bed. There’s no room to move, and it’s SO warm with all that floof! It’s gotten to the point that I don’t even want to stay up after my husband has gone to bed. If I don’t go to bed when he does, I come in and find cats everywhere, and then I’m stuck clinging to the edge of the bed with only about 1/3 of the blanket for warmth.

        2. Jessen*

          Mine does that. And she’s just too cute to move! She sleeps in a twist, with her back end right side up and her tail curled up, and her head and upper body upside-down and her paws in the air.

  24. The Other Dawn*

    So, now that I’m going to PT for my lumbar issues (click on my name if you want to read my blog post about it), I now have neck pain spreading across my shoulders. It’s been four days now, so I don’t think it’s my pillow or that I’m “sleeping wrong.” I’ve noticed when I do the pelvic tilts, and another exercise they gave me, that I can feel it the area that now hurts. I started PT maybe a week, week and half before this started hurting. Any possibility that’s what is causing it? It seems weird that the PT could cause it, but I guess anything is possible.

    It’s just so discouraging to feel as though I’m improving (maybe, kind of) in one area, and now I have another problem. I’ve tried Bengay, Salon Pas and a heating pad, and it hasn’t helped much. And I can’t take NSAIDs because of the gastric bypass.

    1. Ange*

      I’ve had that issue, where I have physio for one thing and then something else starts hurting. Sometimes it’s just your body adjusting to moving in different ways, sometimes it’s that the exercises aren’t quite right for you (e.g. my GP gave me some exercises for knee pain once which worked short term but made things worse in the long run cos I am hypermobile), or it could be that you are not doing the exercises quite right (I often have this problem when I start physio).
      I would ask your physio – it might be that you just need to adjust what you’re doing slightly. Hope it gets better soon.

    2. Thlayli*

      Hasn’t happened to me personally but it makes sense that adjusting muscles in one area could have a knock on effect in others

    3. fposte*

      Upper back and lower back are pretty hard to keep separate. I might throw a good massage therapist in the mix to poke around, since often a situation like this is about stuff tightening up to try to stabilize the unstable part and slack being lost all through the body. If these are pelvic tilts when lying on your back, your neck shouldn’t be moving much, so it’s likely that it’s an issue with tightening somewhere in the kinetic chain. One thing that’s useful to remember, especially for soft tissue stuff, is that the place that’s hurting isn’t necessarily the place where things have gone wrong, and that you can often get some relief by loosening up other places.

      Do you have a foam roller? You might want to give one of those a try. They’re pretty low-impact. They can’t get into tight areas very well but they’re a great start.

        1. Belle di Vedromo*

          Tell your PT about your discomfort and pain, it’s information to use in informing treatment and exercise protocols as well as an opportunity to discuss what else you might do to decrease discomfort.

          Note that nerves that have been pinched and gone numb won’t stay numb as they are freed up. That’s not any fun but can be a sign that the work you’re doing is working, just not working all at once. Again the PT needs to hear about this, as it will inform the treatment protocol.

          “Referred pain” is what fposte described above, it’s when the pain source and location are different. You can find charts online with common combinations. I’d look at the pain sites on the chart/s, and see what the common sources are.

          One difficulty with changing physical patterns and habits is that it’s hard to change them, another is that the rest of your body has been hanging in there to support whatever it is and is now being asked to do something else. It can feel like an argument between where it has been and where it would like to be for mechanical efficiency. I’d tell your PT about the pain and the patterns of discomfort, and ask for advice. I’d also ask for recommendations for a massage therapist, even better if your insurance will cover it. I know a massage therapist who is certified in orthopedic massage, and trained in cranio-sacral therapy, among other things, so you could look for someone like that where you are.

          If your pain is soft tissue, then you might try arnica. It’s a homeopathic remedy (pills or gel, or if it’s bad enough both) for muscular pain. If it’s fascia or nerve pain, the arnica won’t address it.

          You can make your own tool. Take two tennis balls (preferably used ones, they’re not as hard) and tie them together in the foot of a sock. Tie it so that the balls touch, rather than separate when you put weight on them. Lie on your back (on a bed or a couch so you have some give) and you can tuck that under the occipital ridge on the back of your head, perpendicular to your spine and lie on it for a bit. You can also tuck it under the sacro-illiac joint/tailbone and do the same, but for balance reasons always finish with the tool at your head. I’ve used this other places, too, but was asked to stick with the two ends of the spine until getting the ok from my practitioner. If it hurts, stop. The purpose is to help keep the spine itself from kinking up in either of the two primary spots. (See fposte’s comment about the kinetic chain.)

          And you have cats! I’m guessing you have at least one who likes to sit on you and purr. Purring happens at a frequency that supports healing, and an affectionate purring heat source is great when planted on sore and/or source spots.

    4. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      I’ve come out of chiro adjustments before where my hips and legs would hurt for a few days while everything got “reset” to being used right. I would probably mention it to the PT and keep an eye on it – does it feel like muscle pain or shooting nerve pain? If its the latter that is more concerning but a good massage therapist as noted above can work wonders.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        Feels like muscle pain, very similar to when I “sleep wrong.” But after four days, it doesn’t seem like that’s what it is. I’m willing to bet it’s something with the PT I’m doing for the lumbar discs.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      For temporary help you might try peppermint oil on your neck, with little dab on top of the pain.

      I have been working with turmeric and black pepper for my dental pain. My doc keeps a bottle in the house just for general pain, he said it’s on a par with Motrin 800s. He said to get Gaia brand to be sure it’s from real stuff not synthetics. I have found that the turmeric does knock out other pain along with my teeth aches. Again, temporary help while you figure out your next steps.

      1. The Other Dawn*

        I’ll have to check into that. I find that having to live without NSAIDs is tough when these kinds of problems crop up. I do take it once in awhile, but I limit those occasions as much as possible. I sorely miss the days when I could take two 800mg prescription Ibuprofen and get great relief…

        1. Windchime*

          I also have back trouble and can’t take NSAIDs due to kidney disease. It’s so hard when I’m really hurting and I know that a couple of Advil would set me right but resist because….well, because I would like to keep my kidneys in a functional state.

          I’m seeing a new PT and he is helping me so much, but I’m also finding new aches and pains. As my back gets better, pain in my hip and thigh is increasing so I suppose that’s what we will start working on next.

      2. The Other Dawn*

        Do you find it works the same as taking an OTC pain reliever? In other words, is it something you take once and feel relief, or is it something you have to take daily to build it up in your system?

        I bought a bottle anyway to try it out. They’re capsules, so I’m not sure if they’ll dissolve fully before they pass through; another thing I have to think about having had weight loss surgery. I tried to twist one open (thought it was powder inside) and it squirted turmeric and pepper all over my fingers. so they’r now orange. LOL

  25. SpiderLadyCEO*

    It’s my birthday! And it SNOWED yesterday and last night! Since this is my first time living somewhere it snows, I’m honestly so excited. I’m going to one of my favorite local trails to hike in the snow as soon as the sun comes up!

    1. kas*

      Happy Birthday!

      I wish I was this excited to see snow. It’s pretty to look at when it’s falling but I’ve always lived somewhere with snow and would like a break for at least just one entire winter.

      1. SpiderLadyCEO*

        Thank you! Haha, I was terrified at first but then the first snow came and I was just…amazed. Somehow how everything worked out and all my winter wear was here! For now, even though the ice is slippery it’s a fun change from what I am used to.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Happy birthday!!
      I hope you still like the snow after you’ve had months and months of it and it’s all dirty and gross, LOL. But I know what you mean—it can be really pretty.

    3. Kathenus*

      Happy Birthday! As a fall and winter lover it would be a real treat to have a birthday snow. But alas, with a June birthday in the northern hemisphere, not too likely. Enjoy!

  26. Kali*

    I talked about this last week, but I was super late on the thread and I don’t think anybody saw it.

    I’m at university, and a professor has recently been outed as making inappropriate remarks on twitter (link to the article in my name). The most gregarious was “”Imagine what it must feel like to wake up in the morning and realise you are [student women’s office at another uni]. Or worse waking up to realise you’re lying next to her.”. I haven’t been taught by that professor, though I potentially could be in second or fourth year. How utterly gross, to think a professor might even consider how beddable or not you are.:/ Even if he can’t help thinking it, you think he’d at least have the professional judgement not to say it!

    I have a friend who’s worked with him. She self-publishes ebooks, and he’s helped her with proof-reading and marketing in the past. To me it’s all very black and white because I only know the tweets, but she’s more concerned about it, since she’s worried about her first novel being tarnished by association. She’s also surprised; he’d picked out some parts of her book that were anti-Muslim (accidentally; she’s very young and from an area with a very low Muslim population) or anti-feminist (again, accidentally; she doesn’t identify as feminist because, I think, she’s very lucky in never having faced harassment or sexual assault, and she genuinely doesn’t know how bad things can get for women; from her, very young and privileged viewpoint, she thinks feminist are overreacting). She doesn’t get how someone could make her books more feminist and remove the accidental prejudice, while he’s publically espousing that exact prejudice on twitter. I don’t really either.:/

    Best case scenario for me is that he’s fired or, at the very least, he gets a ton of training and I never have to interact with him. Worst case scenario, he ends up supervising my dissertation (though, unlikely; I study genetics, which overlaps with his research into cancer and neuroscience, but I’m more on the developmental/evolutionary biology side).

    1. Fictional Butt*

      Oof, I’m so sorry that is happening in your university. There was a similar situation in my university in the US. Unfortunately, that professor faced minimal consequences and is still employed as far as I know. I don’t know how tenure/”academic freedom protection” works in the UK, but I’d prepare yourself for a frustrating and disappointing end to this situation.

    2. Cristina in England*

      If you don’t want him to supervise your dissertation you can ask to have someone else. You might want to find another supervisor first and get their ok, and they will be able to tell you if you have to get permission from the head of department or the head of your course. You can absolutely push back on this. Fingers crossed it doesn’t come up and you don’t have to!

    3. Anion*

      Why is your friend worried about her novel being tarnished by association? Presumably his name isn’t anywhere on it except in the acknowledgments (if she has them), and if she’s self-pubbing digital she can remove that in two seconds. Which I recommend she does.

      As for the rest, I wish I was as surprised as you are, but in my experience this is extremely typical. I’ve never met a man who pats himself on the back for being “progressive” and “correct” who isn’t secretly a total misogynist/racist/elitist (present company excluded, of course, and funnily enough there’s some discussion on the Friday thread about a co-worker who is also exactly like this). I used to wonder why those men were so convinced everyone in the world was sexist/racist (especially when that’s never been my experience), and then I realized it’s because they themselves are and everyone they know is. Seriously. Insult one of these guys or disagree with them, and the first thing they go to is sexist name-calling or appearance-based insults, sometimes with racial or class-based insults thrown in as well.

      And BTW, I’m not very young and not very privileged, I have faced sexism in my life, and I also do not “identify” as feminist and tend to think many (modern) feminists are way overreacting about many things (and are plain wrong in others). This is a valid and legitimate viewpoint; please stop patronizing your friend for having it. Deciding that her view on feminism is invalid and must be the product of naivety or “privilege” because it doesn’t align with yours is also sexist; she has as much agency as you do and can determine her own views and feelings.

      1. Kali*

        My friend thinks there are legitimate reasons to think the majority of reported rapes might be lies. That’s the viewpoint born of privilege/naivety I specifically had in mind.

      2. Kali*

        I’d like to add on to my reply a little; I had time to think about it while it was stuck in moderation. I appreciate that our miscommunication is completely my fault; I presented my response without including what I was responding to, which left it wide open to interpretation. I completely agree that there are many ways to interpret feminism; I don’t really know what equal treatment, regardless of gender, would look like in practice, so I can hardly consider my own thoughts an authority on the best way to get there!

        I’ve described the thought process I was responding to in the comment directly above this one. Whenever another woman expresses that thought, I remind myself that, hopefully, this viewpoint comes from not facing that themselves. And that’s amazing; I want my friends to have no experience of being hurt or attacked, even if that means they struggle to empathise with those who have been. I have faith that my friend will react appropriately if, heaven forbid, she needed to support someone she knew. Until then…well, it’s not like she’s going around telling people she doesn’t believe them; this is something we very rarely talk about and which she doesn’t bring up, because it isn’t a big part of her life. I might be wrong, but I believe she isn’t hurting anyone at the moment, and I can accept her viewpoint if I believe it comes from a place of never having been hurt or felt threatened in this way, because that’s what I want for her and everyone. If I had evidence that this wasn’t true, and she was hurting someone, I hope our friendship would be strong enough that we could have an honest conversation about it and find a better way through the issue then.

        1. Anion*

          Oooh, yeah, that’s an unusual viewpoint to have about rape/sexual assault. I honestly don’t know anyone, even staunch MRA types, who think or claim that the *majority,* or even close to a majority, of reported rapes are lies. (I assume by “reported,” you mean reported to the police.) So that’s beyond any viewpoints I’m familiar with, and I apologize for my earlier comment, too–I did misunderstand, but that’s not entirely your fault.

          If the subject comes up, it might be worth asking her why she feels that way. But I suspect you’re right here that this unusual view is coming from youth–and I suspect that the high incidence lately of press-driven, very public rape hoaxes is likely behind it, too. I wonder if she means that, when she says “reported?” Because sadly she wouldn’t be incorrect there, given cases like Duke Lacrosse, Rolling Stone/UVA, “Mattress Girl,” etc. (I could go on a whole rant about the harm such nonsense does, but I’ll refrain.) It’s easy to let those cases color our perception, not realizing that the majority of cases aren’t like that.

          But IMO you’re right, and her private views aren’t harming anyone as long as she isn’t going around seeking out victims and calling them liars. I don’t think you’re doing anything wrong by not arguing the topic with her. And you sound like a good friend to me.

  27. Fictional Butt*

    Etiquette question. What is the appropriate response when someone complains about their weight?

    My roommate is overweight and comments on her own weight all the time. She tells me not to let her eat, negatively compares her body to mine, says she can’t meet a guy until she loses weight, etc. She brings it up in the most random situations: for instance, yesterday we ran into someone who remembered my roommate from an event they’d both attended, but my roommate didn’t remember her. After they were done chatting, my roommate said, “She probably only remembered me because I’m so fat.”

    (It’s not like my roommate is 600 lbs or anything. She looks like a pretty standard, slightly heavy person.)

    I never really know what to say in response! Agreeing with her would be weird and mean, but disagreeing also seems mean– I don’t want to tell her how to feel about her own body. It also makes me REALLY uncomfortable when she compares herself to me, but she’s kind of a pushy, semi-rude person so I’m not sure how to ask her to stop.

    Any advice?

    1. soupmonger*

      Find some way of telling her that if she’s unhappy with her weight, to actually do something about it and stop talking to you about it all the time? Sitting her down and saying the things you’ve written here would be a start. Asking you to stop her from eating is ridiculous and I’d shut that down immediately (is it seriously meant or joking?). Tell her that her constant weight comments and chat is getting you down and that you would really like her to stop commenting.

    2. Red Reader*

      I’ve flat out said, “I don’t know how you want me to respond to that, what are you looking for when you start conversations that way?” (That is a bonus to being known as not very emotionally savvy. No one I know gets surprised when I say that I don’t know what kind of response they’re looking for.)

      1. Fictional Butt*

        Oooh, this is good language. I’m not sure if I’ll use it for this specific situation, but it’s a good line to keep in my back pocket.

      2. Jessi*

        Yes! Something like “you know that is the 9th time you have brought up your weight this week. Are you looking for reassurance? If you are not happy about your weight maybe this could be a good time to consider doing something about it? I am not the body police and I would like for you to stop making me a part of this body shamming talk. I like you for your sense of humour/ wonderful company/ other things about her you like/ my value of you doesn’t change by how much you weigh”.

    3. Marthooh*

      Ugh. That’s a crappy way to talk about herself, and a crappy way to talk to her roommate. As you say, though, you can’t really complain about her opinion of her own body.

      “It seems like a perfectly good body to me; I’m sorry you don’t like it! I have to tell you, though, that I get very uncomfortable when you talk negatively about weight and eating and body shape. Please find someone else to discuss it with.”

    4. Overeducated*

      She is doing it for reassurance. Don’t agree or disagree about whether she’s fat, reinforce that her worth is not in her weight, romantic and friendly relationships do not depend on it, and that’s not really a path of conversation you want to go down over and over.

      I think it is very easy to fall into that rut and takes some reconditioning to get our of. Back after college I had a roommate who was all into fat acceptance, body positive burlesque, and stuff like that, and she really was a good influence over our whole household in ending conversations like that.

      1. Fictional Butt*

        Thanks, this is a helpful viewpoint. I guess one of my struggles with this, though, is that it kind of seems like a weird thing for a thin person to say to a fat person. I could tell her all day that it’s ok to be fat, but I can’t empathize with what she is actually experiencing, and she’s told me that things have changed a lot for her since she became overweight.

        The other problem is, she’s a very recent immigrant from a culture with a much more “traditional” idea of relationships and beauty standards. Her attitude towards many cultural ideas in the US is that we’re just being politically correct and hiding our true feelings (that all fat people are unattractive, etc.). So when I try to say that, for instance, she shouldn’t wait until she loses weight to try to meet someone, she tells me that I’m being unrealistic and implies that I’m naive.

        1. Reba*

          Hm, I don’t think you’re likely to be able to change her mindset on the issue of weight and embracing differences…

          but I think you could set the boundary that you don’t want to engage with negative self-talk. You could point out kindly how often she does this, so you know it’s something that bothers her, but all the same for *your* own happiness you would appreciate it if she tried not to say things like that, and warn her that you might just disengage from conversations on that topic.

      2. Ramona Flowers*

        On top of all the good advice that’s been given already, a phrase I find really useful is “that’s not okay with me” or “that’s not okay for me”. For example, you might say: please don’t comment on my body – that’s not okay with me.

        Used sparingly it can be pretty effective.

    5. Jani*

      My guess is that she thinks people notice her weight as much as she does, and is preempting those comments. It’s possible she grew up around people who /do/ comment on weight a lot (whether to the face of another person or just in a gossiping sense).

      You mention that she’s from another culture. I won’t speculate on her but where I’m from (Eastern Asia) weight is a topic that is talked about a /lot/. It’s not considered rude to tell someone they’re fat (just ‘being honest’), or ask how much someone weights. In some cases job applications even ask for your measurements. People would gossip about friends or acquaintances putting on weight and it’s all perfectly acceptable topics of conversation. Also, while issues like obesity is on the rise, the majority of the population (especially in younger women) tend to be mostly quite slim, so anyone who is overweight (or even a normal weight by US standards) would stand out.

      So if that was the kind of environment your roommate grew up around then it’s not surprising her first thought when someone remembers her is that it’s all about weight. I’d say change the subject if it keeps coming up (if she can bring up the topic out of nowhere you can just as easily bring up another unrelated topic). There’s nothing really you can do to change her mindset but you don’t need to indulge it.

      1. Fictional Butt*

        Thanks, this is a helpful cultural viewpoint. “I’m not being rude, I’m just being honest” is a pretty major facet of my roommate’s personality, which is why I think some of the language on this thread won’t work for her specifically (although it’s all helpful! Thank you all so much!)

        I might focus on asking her not to talk about my body, and then just change the subject when she makes other comments about her weight.

        Thanks again for everyone’s comments. I really appreciate it.

    6. Katie the Fed*

      As an overweight person, my advice is to tell her gently something like “it seems like this really bothers you – maybe you’d benefit from talking to a therapist about it?”

      Because really, you’re not her therapist. And nothing you say is going to make her situation better. She either has to decide to resolve the weight issue or decide to live with it – but that’s not something you’re going to help her with.

      Worst case is she’ll stop talking to you about it, which is a fine outcome.

      1. Sue No-Name*

        Yup! And the fact that this concerns her isn’t any more or less valid because she “isn’t 600 pounds or anything”.

    7. HannahS*

      Some ideas:
      “I’m not sure what you want me to say when you say stuff like that.”
      “No, you’re in charge of your own body” <– when she tells you to stop her from eating
      "I don't like it when people comment on my body" "But I was saying something NICE" "You can say what you want about your own body, but I don't want to hear stuff about my body."<– when she says stuff about your relative thinness
      "I don't like hearing you say mean things about yourself. If I was with someone else, and they said those kinds of things about you, I'd really tell them off. But I don't want to mediate the relationship you have with yourself or your body, and I think developing a happy relationship with your body is something worth investing time in. So I'd really encourage you to talk with a professional about doing that."

    8. The Other Dawn*

      I’ve been That Person, so I feel that turning it around on her is the way to go. Everyone is different, but I feel that’s what would have helped me. But I never had anyone that would say to me, “Well, what do you plan to do about it?” Or, “If you’re not willing to do anything about it, then stop complaining.” I mean, you could be a little softer about it if you need to, but that’s the gist of it. I think you need to call out her behavior and tell her how it makes you feel.

      When I would say those things it was because I felt terrible about myself, knew I was very overweight, but just didn’t have to motivation to do anything about it other than complain. It was “too hard” to actually do something, and lots of times I felt overwhelmed at the thought of having to lose 130+ pounds just to be in the “overweight” category, so I never got started. I would also call attention to my weight before others could; if I say it first, then it’s not as hard to hear when someone else says it. I also had a lot of jealousy going on. I hated that thin people didn’t seem to have to work for it (I know now that that’s not necessarily true). I also had a chip on my shoulder about my weight, which sounds similar to what you say in that I thought people only remembered me because I was huge and stuck out like a sore thumb (I’m very tall, too). I mean, how could people not remember someone who is almost 6′ tall and 350 pounds??

      Also, the part about stopping her from eating is just ridiculous. I would say things like that, too. It was because I felt like I couldn’t do it on my own, like it was a huge mountain I couldn’t climb. Also, in my mind it would be someone else’s fault if I ate something I shouldn’t.

      I wish you luck!

    9. Beatrice3*

      “Hey, I can see that you’re concerned about this, but I really hate talking about food/weight/diets. Please don’t bring it up with me again.” or “Wow, please don’t comment on my body. It makes me really uncomfortable” + a simple “Hmm.” anytime she brings it up again. She might be taken aback, but it’s totally fair to draw boundaries around body talk.

      If she was a friend I could see having a slightly different, more compassionate conversation where you ask her if she there’s something deeper that’s bugging her, whether maybe she wants to go to therapy, etc. But since you don’t seem to be that close, I would just stick with the boundaries conversation.

    10. Artemesia*

      The only response to this IMHO is ‘So what are you doing about it?’ Whining doesnt’ take off the pounds. Live with it and accept it or do something about it are the only options. Whining to acquaintances, co-workers and roommates should be off the table.

      You may have to establish your home as a ‘no whining zone’

    11. Fish girl*

      I usually go with something like, “I don’t like it when you say mean things about my friend.” (Aka your roommate). I tell that to my husband a lot. He’s got body image issues and low self-esteem. I tell him “Don’t say mean things about my husband” all of time when he’s insulting his looks or intelligence or whatever. It’s a quick phrase to stop the self-flagellation without going into agreeing, disagreeing, reassuring, appeasing, whatever.

  28. Legalchef*

    An update on my adventures in sleep training: the first night (this past Saturday) was rough- screamed for 2 hours at 1:30, then for another hour at 4:30. Second night he cried for a half hour at 4:30. Since then, if he cries at all it’s only for a couple minute, and only once! Except last night, for some reason he cried on and off for an hour and a half. Not sure what that was about; hopefully it was just a blip.

    1. Legalchef*

      Replying to myself because I meant to add that I was so worried he’d be upset and mad at me, but when I got him in the morning after the first night he started smiling right away and gave me a snuggle.

    2. fposte*

      You didn’t say that this was about a child, so I’m enjoying inserting various trainees into the scenario.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        lol. Maybe the person with the 8 month old shepherd pup would find some advice here helpful also.

    3. Jessi*

      Well done! it can be really hard to listen to a child cry. I think its worth it in the end though – more sleep means both you and him are less cranky and more able to enjoy your time together :)

    4. Call me St. Vincent*

      Great job! We have started doing one hug and then back to bed, which has helped a lot with the number and duration of wake ups. My husband used to do this thing where he would hold her and rub her back sitting in the arm chair in her room and I told him it had to stop because she would wake up and say “chair! Chair!” And he told me he thought I wanted him to do that, which was puzzling! He agreed it was setting a terrible precedent. So once we realized we both agreed already we shouldn’t do it, we sat her down before bed one night and told her no more chair since she’s a big girl now. Things have been much smoother so I’m crossing my fingers. There have been a couple of times where she has cried for 10-15 mins after her one hug but it’s improving every time.

      1. Legalchef*

        Yikes. The site freaked out on me. What I meant to say was the extra sleep as been incredible.

  29. Courtney*

    I need clothing suggestions for the place we don’t talk about on weekends. Specifically, shoe and dress pant recommendations. Any styles or brands that you love? For shoes, I’m on my feet a lot and am pretty prone to blisters on my heel and baby toe in shoes that are too rigid or narrow in the toe box. Dress pants are the super impossible one – I’m an apple shape (AKA I carry any extra weight in my stomach), which is more pronounced since having my kids. So mid–rise pants that fit me in the waist are HUGE everywhere else since my legs are pretty slender. Stupid stomach. And stuff that claims to smooth your waistline just gives me horrendous muffin top. Low rise pants paired with a longer top are what I’ve found to work best so far, since they sit below my problem area – but low rise dress pants are pretty hard to find.

    1. Thursday Next*

      For pants have you tried Ann Taylor or Loft? I need curvey fit pants and I’ve found well fitting pants at both places. AT recently had an add campaign around making all sorts of different fit pants so maybe they’ll have something for you.
      For shoes have you tried “comfort” brands like Clark’s or naturalizer? Clark’s has wide width and Naturalizer can be found at DSW (Clark’s too i think) so you can get them for cheap.

    2. Alston*

      I don’t know if you fit in plus sizes, but Lane Bryant does a line of pants for different waist hope ratios, so they have stuff that would fit apples, pears, hourglass, etc. Someone else must do that too if you aren’t in the plus sizes.

    3. NaoNao*

      Fashion advice! My fave :)
      Dress pants: Try Target–their brands Merona, A New Day, and WhoWoreWhat (and Ava and Viv for plus) are pretty good for apple shapes. I’m more of a pear, I carry extra weight below the navel, but I’ve found if I go up a size from my normal size a lot of their jeans/pants work well enough.

      You didn’t mention this and forgive me if it’s a no-go, but for many apple, pear, or all over curvy sizes, skirt and dresses are a gift. I have a small collection of split slips (Jockey makes “skimmies” that are non-binding Spanx, basically) and tights that I wear under, to avoid the dreaded chafing.

      Skirts/dresses can be intimidating at first because they seem more formal and styling them can be a bit of a challenge. I love the look of a simple knit top and a simple pull on a-line skirt, or a wrap dress with tights and low heeled boots. I feel like if it’s done right, it will be 90% as comfortable and durable as pants.

      But enough about skirts!

      Recommended brands
      Gentle souls ($$$—but worth it)
      Franco Sarto
      “Fancy sneakers”–a lot of brands are making super cute, sleek, low profile “street sneakers” like you would see on fashion bloggers. I am *in love* with fancy sneakers and own several pairs and you can pry them off my cold dead feet.
      Hush Puppies
      Duo for boots
      Some Free People brands actually work really well for my semi-wide feet with sensitive heels (I blister like it’s my job) Again, pricey, but they’re worth it. Jeffery Campbell is one, Seychelles is another.
      Faryl Robin
      Miz Mooz
      Tsubo (they went out of business but they’re on ebay and online at various sellers)

      Good luck!!

    4. LCL*

      Men’s pants. Seriously. The pants in women’s shops look hideous on me. If they are big enough in the waist, they balloon out over the butt and hips and look bizarre.

      For shoes, that’s tough. Maybe go to Nordstrom’s and have them figure out your size. My experience has been that if you are getting blisters on your heels the shoes are too small, or paradoxically too big and your foot is sliding. If your foot is sliding that can also give you blisters on the little toe if your foot is moving. I am fortunate in that I have to wear work boots so I don’t have any suggested brands for dress shoes.

    5. Reba*

      If you have shoes that are good leather/you already like a lot, it might be worth it to get them stretched by a cobbler. They can target the problem places. Or try a shoe stretch product at home.
      I do well in my Clarks, Sam Edelman (flats with lightly cushy soles!) and Gentle Souls shoes.

    6. StubbornWombat*

      I’ve had good luck with Naturalizer and Keen re shoes, and Dress Barn for clothes. Ariat’s paddock boots are also nice and comfy – the Scout boots look elegant and have great ankle support! Naturalizer also makes flats with great support, and has wide sizes.

    7. Xennial*

      If your shirts are long enough try getting maternity pants. No one needs to know that you are wearing them. They will also have slimmer legs.

    8. Merci Dee*

      For shoes, I am totally loving Skechers Majesty. I’ve put a link to them in my name. Comfy memory foam, but the lacy panels make them look more dressy than regular tennis shoes. I’ve bought these in a couple of colors, and they’re just about the only shoes I’ve worn for the past 3 years.

    9. Nye*

      For shoes, if you need/want cute ones, I like Miz Mooz. They have a bunch of different styles but usually offer several with a more squared-off toe box. (Some of their others, with pointier toe boxes, are more hit-or-miss for me.)

      If you can go funkier and less traditionally feminine, I adore my Fluevog Angels oxfords. Comfortable, nice looking, and incredibly well-made and long-wearing. (Basically a more interesting version of men’s dress shoes for women.) They also have some much crazier designs, but the oxfords in particular work with dressier professional outfits, provided your workplace doesn’t expect heels.

      Both brands are not inexpensive, but pretty readily available in good condition on eBay. I got my Fluevogs there for <$20 at least 5 years ago.

      1. Gingerblue*

        Seconding Miz Mooz. I’ve bought most of mine severely on sale on Amazon; if I filter their offerings by brand, size, and price, I can often find a bunch of discounted options from the past season around $20-50.

    10. Gingerblue*

      I have good luck with Danskos and Clarkes, partly because they offer different widths. On my wide feet, that’s golden. I wear size nines in most shoes, but given something that’s actually wide enough at the toes I can go down half a size. If you’re having trouble finding shoes that are comfortable, particularly in styles (like heels) which need a slightly more precise fit, you may need to adjust a dimension like width or the height of the toe box where the brands you’ve been wearing give you fewer options.

  30. AlexandraVictoria*

    I just had to put my mom in memory care. Her first night was very rough. I know it’s the best place for her but the guilt is crushing.

    1. Marthooh*

      I feel you. My Dad had to go into a memory unit a couple of years before he died. He settled in eventually, and even enjoyed having lots of company, but it was pretty heartbreaking at first. His wife felt so guilty that she couldn’t keep him at home anymore, but he needed more care than the family could give

    2. Not So NewReader*

      There is really no place that is guilt free in these situations. If the person remains in the home then there is the constant care that is required. And did I do enough? And did I remember everything my person needs? And do I ever get to sleep myself?
      It just a sucky situation. Sometimes the best we can do is minimize damage/hurt/pain. And that is the best that can be accomplished, there are no good answers.

    3. MommaCat*

      My mom has been in a memory care facility for over a year at this point; it sucks, but it has gotten easier for her as she’s gotten used to the facility and the people in it (and we got her on better antidepressants). Internet hugs if you want them.

    4. Anono-me*

      I’ve been in a similar situation. While driving across several states to go back home for the move, I stopped for gas in a small town. I had to wait a little bit to pay, because the local police were talking to the cashier. The cashier apologized for the delay and explained that the police had been asking her to help get the word out about a missing person. Turns out an elderly man who was very frail and had dementia had wandered away from home early that morning while his family was still asleep. Everyone was very worried as there was a bad snow storm predicted soon.
      This “in your face” reminder that the move was for our loved ones safety not our personal convenience really helped me with the process. Keep reminding yourself that this is for her wellbeing.

    5. Girasol*

      There comes a time when you just can’t manage the situation yourself and you have to do it, and yet it feels so wrong, doesn’t it? After we put my stepmom into care last year (and second guessed that decision over and over) it seemed like one thing after another came up that would have been a crisis if she hadn’t been there with several staff members watching over her day and night.

    6. ‘Sconnie*

      Sending you many virtual hugs. We are on a similar journey in my family. Be gentle with yourself and try not to neglect your self-care.

    7. Not That Jane*

      I’m so sorry. I’ve been there (or at least, in that general vicinity) and what helped me was knowing that my dad was well taken care of. Better than I ever could have at home. Hang in there.

    8. Roly Poly Little Bat Faced Girl*

      Hugs from this internet stranger who went through it a few months ago with my mom. It’s the right decision, but certainly not an easy one. Just remind yourself that it’s the best decision in an awful situation, which is the best you can do.

    9. Anion*

      I can’t offer any advice, but man, I am so sorry. That’s rough. And fwiw it is the best thing for her–for both of you–and I’m sure she wants or would want you to do what’s right for you, too. Hugs to you.

  31. AvonLady Barksdale*

    After finally getting an MRI, I learned that my meniscus is partially torn. This is as I suspected. Luckily, I probably won’t need surgery; the surgeon would prefer to wait and see, especially since I’ve improved a ton in the past couple of weeks. Today I even decided to walk my dog for the first time in over 6 weeks, and while I probably overdid it, it felt so good to be (somewhat) out and about again.

    Physical therapy is great, exercises at home are great, but damn. I need to be up and walking again. I usually walk several miles a day. I have also managed, unsurprisingly, to put on several pounds since this whole thing started, meaning that once I am cleared for real exercise, I’m going to have to commit to it and to eating much better than I’ve been. Grr.

    1. gala apple*

      Ugh I hope you have a complete recovery soon! What have you been doing to improve in the past few weeks (or was it just the passage of time?)

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        Physical therapy, drugs, rest, brace. It’s been a lot of work and at one point I thought it would never get better, but it’s coming along.

    2. Elizabeth West*

      Ouch! I damaged mine several years ago. It still acts up now and then, but if I wear an elastic brace while walking, it helps. The doctor said there really wasn’t much to be done unless it gets worse, but fortunately it got better. I know what you mean about feeling frustrated you can’t do much–once you get used to exercising, it feels weird when you don’t.

  32. Strenght Training*

    I had to fire my personal trainer because she lied to me but I’ve been floundering a bit since. I have a new neighbor on my floor who is a personal trainer and he and/or his wife seem nice when I meet them in the elevator and such. Would it be weird to hire him? The commute obviously would be great but I worry it might be awkward if something went wrong. Otherwise, any ideas on finding a new one? No one I know now uses one.

    1. Foreign Octopus*

      I’ve sort of been on the receiving end of this in a roundabout way. I’m an English language teacher and I’ve occasionally had people in my building come to me and ask for lessons but I’ve always turned them down because it’s just not worth the bother if something goes wrong, and I really like to keep work and private separate.

      You could always ask if you’re comfortable with it but be prepared for him to say no because he is your neighbour.

      As for finding another trainer, I have no ideas about that. Sorry, but good luck.

    2. Yetanotherjennifer*

      You could ask him if he can recommend a trainer. Then he’s free to recommend himself or not.

    3. JenM*

      I’m afraid I have no advice re. finding a new trainer but as for your neighbour I’d be wary. Think about how you’d feel if you potentially had to see your ex-trainer every day because she was your neighbour. I don’t think it’s worth the risk.

        1. Chocolate Teapot*

          Perhaps the neighbour doesn’t want to take on clients who live in such close proximity? However I would ask if they could recommend somebody.

    4. Artemesia*

      I never want to have a close relationship of any kind with someone who lives on my floor in an apartment building. A business relationship even worse. I would not do it.

  33. Temperance*

    I’m about to go visit my sister and her kids (YAY!) but wanted to bring them some treats from Trader Joe’s, since they don’t have one. Any recs?

    I already packed up Everything But the Bagel seasoning, Himalayan Pink Sea Salt, and green salsa (my faves), but what am I missing??

    1. AvonLady Barksdale*

      My favorite thing from Trader Joe’s is the chili-lime cashews. Do they still have those? I stay away from Trader Joe’s because of these things; I would eat a whole bag in one sitting if I could.

    2. KatieKate*

      Peanut butter pretzels? Cookie butter? Any of the pumpkin stuff out now?

      Also, if they like spicy, I could live off of the TJs ghost pepper chips

    3. Lily Evans*

      I’m currently obsessed with their Sumatra Coffee Brownies (in the baked goods sections) and their mochi rice snacks!

    4. Old Biddy*

      I stock up on those when I go to TF’s (90 minute drive). Do they like cheese or crackers? TJ’s has some good deals. Trail mix and nuts are another favorite.

    5. Overeducated*

      The dark chocolate covered salted almonds are my favorite! And their peppermint Oreos if those are in season….

    6. CatCat*

      I saw at our local Joe’s that they’ve got their sipping chocolates in stock (seems to be a seasonal item) and that’s really yummy.

    7. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      A bag of that Cowboy Bark. or the Pumpkini Jo Jos – I brought both back to my office here in the UK and people chowed down on that like it was the last thing on earth. Well, they do that anyway, but they had exceptional gusto this time!

      We also brought back ghost chili peppers that you can grind – Other Half had it taken away from him after he applied it like pepper to some red sauce and made it so spicy I had to put two extra cans of tomatoes in! He can now only use it under supervision :)

      Chocolate Chip Dunkers are always a big fan too, or those ABC cookies or the cats for kids….

    8. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I saw today that TJ’s has their holiday Joe-Joe cookies out. There is a kind that comes in a hexagon(?)-shaped box that are different flavors, like peppermint covered in dark chocolate, peanut butter in milk chocolate, and my favorite, ginger covered in white chocolate. It’s a good thing that TJ’s doesn’t sell the ginger ones year around or I would develop quite a problem.

    9. Cristina in England*

      My kids LOVE the freeze dried fruit, and the strawberries are particularly easy for little ones to eat. My son and I love the peanut butter pretzels. I don’t share the maple cookies with anyone. ;-)
      (No we don’t have TJ’s in England, but my mom sends us stuff over. The fruit is great as packing filler and it weighs nothing!)
      (There is a pub called Trader Joe’s in Glasgow and I was SO excited when I first saw it, only to be SO disappointed when I realized it wasn’t a TJs)

    10. Lady Alys*

      The peanut-butter filled pretzel bites are THE DEVIL. I could eat a bag myself. The cinnamon roasted almonds are tasty as well.

    11. Kathenus*

      Garlic chipotle salsa, herb and spice popcorn and Kalamata olive hummus are some of my favorites.

  34. Savannnah*

    We are prepping for our east to west coast move and it’s been an absolute joy to see how corporate America moves people. We’ve had 3 companies come to give us moving estimates for a full pack and move and it’s just a whole other world from my usual duffel bag on a plane style of moving. I’m still ambivalent about relocating to Portland but we are going out there next week to apt hunt and I’ve even lined up a meeting with someone for a possible thing we don’t discuss on the weekends which has been good for my personal wellbeing. Finalizing the last details of our 3 week honeymoon to Morocco as well this weekend as we won’t be home again til the week before we leave for it. If anyone has suggestions we are hitting up all the major cities and I’m slightly nervous to bring my inexperienced husband to the hustle of Marrakech but hoping it will all go smoothly!

    1. fposte*

      A friend of mine had a dad who was a corporate exec, and they had to move a couple of times on the company’s dime. She remembers opening a box of safely cushioned, lovingly packed twist ties.

      1. many bells down*

        I tried to pack as much as I could in advance when we moved to Seattle, but I was still recovering from an illness and didn’t get as much done as I liked.

        The result was that we ended up UNpacking a couple boxes of packing-paper-wrapped actual garbage. The movers had gotten their hands on it before we could throw it out and just … packed it.

        1. Chaordic One*

          Me, too. The packers packed and wrapped several waste baskets still full of trash. Thankfully, it was mostly paper and not any kind of food that could have started to rot.

      2. Mallory Janis Ian*

        Ha. My brother and SIL were relocated after his retirement from the marines, and when she was unpacking the kitchen boxes, she found one individually padding-wrapped shoe. The other shoe was found several days later, not wrapped at all, in the master bedroom box. #moversbecrazy

        1. Artemesia*

          I had put the garage door opener and similar things on a particular shelf and told the movers, but they hoovered everything up anyway and packed those. They also took my already packed boxes and repacked them into their boxes so they could charge more. In some cases things I had carefully packed were no longer salvageable when unpacked their way.

          1. Savannnah*

            We just got married and have not unpacked any presents because of the upcoming move. 2 of the moving companies told us they would have to open and repack all of the presents. The said it was for insurance purposes but it seems really unnecessary. We are not footing any of the bill however so I’m not super inclined to fight them on it.

      3. nonegiven*

        Somehow that reminds me of the hoarder who had a box labeled pieces of string too short to keep.

    2. Ann O.*

      I used to live in Morocco! It was over a decade ago now, though, so all of my suggestions would be out of date.

      Marrakech is my favorite city. I don’t think it’s any worse for inexperienced travelers than Fes and WAY better than Tangiers (I always tell people to just skip Tangiers). Just stay in a nice hotel or riad, so he has some breaks from the hustle and bustle. :) But there is no moment more magical than entering Djemaa el-Fna at sunset!

      Are you going to Chefchaouen or Essaouira?

      1. Savannnah*

        Lovely! We are doing Marrakesh, Chefchaouen and Essaouira! We are def skipping tangiers haha. Also Fes and a desert tour because when in Morocco… any advice? The TA forums are full of honor stories and eve though I’ve lived in other parts of Africa before I’m getting a little more nervous than expected. We did upscale our normal travel since it is a honeymoon so that may be all the help we need. Any not to miss on your list?

        1. Rookie Manager*

          I loved Marrakech but my partner hated it. He felt he had to be on guard at all times and (as we enjoy talking to locals when travelling) got burned early on by a ‘faux guide’*. I didn’t feel unsafe/unsettled at any point but he paid someone to go away because he felt we (he was protecting me apparently) were unsafe. My conclusion was that he felt how I normally feel as a woman, a bit of preparation for that would’ve helped him.

          I’d recommend a trip into the Atlas Mountains to see the waterfalls. The climb can be tricky but with the help f a guide you can experience some breath taking views.

          *Faux Guides don’t actually offer to be a guide, they fall into step with you and make small talk or helpfully say ‘the museum is closed today, but x is open’ (often a lie) or offer you a free sample THEN demand money for being your guide. We’re fairly well travelled but this was new to us.

        2. Ann O.*

          Chefchaouen and Essaouira are my next two favorite cities after Marrakech, so I’m glad you’re doing them!

          Like I said, I’m way out of date on what to see/what not to see since it’s been so long. I think most of the generally recommended tourist sites are generally worth seeing if you’re into beautiful architecture. I’m surprised to hear that TA forums are full of horror stories because generally, everyone I’ve known had really good things to say about Morocco.

          But it is true that it’s a high hustle/high harassment country. So you have to set expectations accordingly or pay for a guide, who will insulate you from some of that. If you’re not French or Moroccan Arabic speaking, I would recommend a licensed guide for Fes and Marrakech (my experience is that both Chefchaouen and Essaouira were fairly chill). But mostly, just embrace that you will get ripped off at least once, but as soon as you translate the amount back into euros or dollars, it will also not be a big deal. I imagine that’s similar to other parts of Africa, although Morocco is the only part I’ve been to.

          Oh! If you travel by train, spend more for premiere class. It’s worth it. Heh, if you have specific questions, I may have more useful information. I tend to forget what there is to think about.

        3. Ann O.*

          Oh man, like I said, I’m so out of date. You’ve already got my three favorite cities.

          I agree with the recommendation for the waterfalls (cascades d’ouzoud, I think is the name of the best ones). They’re really pretty.

          I’m surprised you’re seeing horror stories. Everyone I know who’s gone to Morocco has loved it over all. It is true that it’s a high hustle/high harassment country in the major cities. Be prepared for that or hire a licensed guide to insulate you from it (especially if neither of you are French or Moroccan Arabic speaking).

          If you have specific questions, I can probably give more specific information. It’s hard for me to remember what people don’t know.

    3. Lore*

      My dad got one corporate move. The house we were leaving was purchased “as is” and there was weird crap in the basement and attic. We thought we’d handled it all but at the other end of the move, there were boxes and boxes of stuff we’d never owned that had been in the furnace room. Including three cases of Johnnie Walker Black.

      1. Chaordic One*

        Many years ago my grandparents purchased a house that had been the scene of a murder about year earlier, which took place in the yard surrounding the house. The relatives of the deceased owner took what they wanted and sold the house, but they left behind all sorts of stuff, almost everything in fact, and didn’t make any attempt to clean it up all.

        In addition to leaving behind most of the furniture, there were still dirty dishes in the kitchen sink and rotten food in the refrigerator. I remember in one of the bedrooms that beside an unmade bed was a pair of panties lying on the floor like someone had just stepped out of them.

        There had been rumors that the dead guy’s girlfriend who lived with him in the house had been murdered and that her body had been built into the walls of the house which were unusually thick and made of brick. However, the general consensus was that the girlfriend had packed a bag and took off on the next Greyhound.

        There was nothing particularly valuable left behind, though. If there had been any cases of Johnnie Walker Black left behind the relatives or the girlfriend must have taken them.

    4. Clever Name*

      My then-husband’s company moved us across several states. It was so awesome. We had just had a baby, so I had the movers pack our stuff. As our second car was being loaded onto the moving truck, I checked the status of our flight. It was cancelled because a huge blizzard had hit our destination. I called the move coordinator who booked us (and our 2 cats) a hotel room. it would have been a real nightmare to have to deal with that on my own. I heard later that the value of the company’s relocation assistance was around $60k. I totally believe it.

  35. Rocky mtn*

    I would like to move to Colorado. No family there, possibility of current job becoming remote with occasional face to face visits.

    Scared because of preschool aged kids and no local support. I don’t HAVE to move and have a good life where I am. How do you decide to up and move with a family?

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I am biased. I am widowed and on my own. My answer is stay where you are supported. We can’t buy friendships, support, or empathy those things are given to us. And those things can carry us through an awesome amount of life challenges.
      My vote is stay put and look around to see how you can enrich the life you have now.

    2. Fictional Butt*

      I don’t have a family, but I’ve moved states several times and it’s a difficult, expensive, lonely process. It could be worth it, though.

      I’m assuming you have some specific reasons you want to move to Colorado. Are you 100% sure that moving to CO is the right solution for whatever those reasons are? That you will actually find what you are looking for there? What solutions have you tried that don’t involve moving? Do you know what you won’t have there (family, friends, your favorite restaurant, easy access to public transit, whatever) and is the trade-off worth it? (These are just questions for you to think about.)

      Working remotely for your current company could be a good way to make this work, but it could also prevent you from meeting people in CO. Also, it sounds like you’ll sometimes have to travel to your current office. Do you have a partner? If not, who will take care of your kids while you’re away?

      1. Rocky mtn*

        Those are really good points to ponder, especially whether I’ll find what I’m looking for there. Thanks.

        1. Saro*

          There’s a podcast where they discuss this – I’ll look for the link now. I have a wanderlust and also am in an area I don’t like but have TONS of support. The podcast really made me think differently about my situation.

          1. Saro*

            I think it’s stuck in moderation but it’s episode 125 on Gretchen Rubin’s podcast. It’s called Plan a Virtual Move

    3. Ann Furthermore*

      I live in CO and we love it here. If you do move here, be prepared to pay a premium price for housing. The real estate market is insane and shows no signs of slowing down.

      1. Jill*

        It’s all relative. If she’s moving from the northeast or California, for example, Colorado is still cheaper. I live in a fairly expensive Denver neighborhood and 4 br houses are around $450k with property taxes of about $2500. It’s expensive compared to the rural Midwest but cheap compared to many other parts of the country.

    4. NacSacJack*

      Thank you all for responding to this. I think frequently of moving lately now that I’m single. What keeps me here? Trying to find housing with two dogs, both older, and my family. What makes me want to move? Everyone in my community knows everyone else. No one new to date or unknowns to try to develop friendships with. Thank you for the podcast suggestion.

  36. MySibSucks*

    Does anyone else have a sibling who is a complete emotional drain? Is it okay to drop the rope, even if he/she hasn’t done anything terrible?

    My brother (33) has never done anything horrible to me (30)–normal sibling stuff while growing up, but we have had a polite but distant relationship as adults. I would see him less, except if I want to see my parents, I have to see him.

    He still lives with my parents, does not work, and is preventing my parents from retiring. I am frustrated because I see how much strain the situation is putting on my parents’ marriage. I think he’s profoundly lazy, but he is also depressed and seems to have a myriad of health issues. If these health issues appeared in anyone other than my brother, I would think, “Wow, how unlucky! I feel so bad for that person.” But with my brother, I always find myself wondering, “Is this his new excuse to not move out/get a job/be an adult? Is this just a symptom of his depression?” He refuses counseling, though he is medicated. I judge him for refusing counseling in a way that I definitely wouldn’t judge someone else.

    Basically, I have a totally uncharitable view of my brother. I am pissed at him for preventing my parents from retiring. And I’m just… done hearing him complain about his life. I know how he got to where he is, and while a lot of it is my parents’ fault for coddling him, he did a lot of it to himself.

    I don’t know if I’m looking for advice per-se (I have a therapist, she is helpful), but it would be helpful to me to hear if anyone else has a similar sibling/experience. It would also be helpful to hear from anyone with a similar sibling who is a bit older. How have you navigated parents’ aging/retiring/health declining with a vampire sibling? My parents aren’t that old (65), but they aren’t that young either.

    1. Lily Evans*

      I’m hoping that my sister eventually pulls her act together since she’s only 20, but I have similar feelings about her. She didn’t go to college and is living with a roommate and working full time (in a government job that pays well) yet she still can’t save money and my parents have to bail her out! She gets tattoos, buys weed, has a pet snake, constantly gets new clothes and designer brand makeup, and still has to ask my parents for money. And they give it to her. It pisses me off, even though I know my parents would give me money if I needed it and I appreciate that, because I don’t know if she’ll ever become responsible when she’s getting bailed out all the time. She also constantly complains about how broke she is, and it’s like if you can afford concert tickets once a month you’re not broke, you just suck at budgeting!

      1. MySibSucks*

        I hope your sister learns to take care of herself. I wasn’t really worried about my brother when we were younger. My parents definitely supported me, too, through age 21 (when I finished college), and they did bail me out when I was in a car accident in at 22 (car was totaled, I had significant ER bills, and was new to the full-time working world so I had little savings). So it’s not like I got *no* support from my parents, and it’s clear that they would help out in an emergency even now (it wouldn’t be needed… my husband and I make fine money and have a significant safety cushion). But their message to me was clear: barring emergencies, they expected me to be self-supporting within 2-3 months of finishing college. That initially meant a crappy part-time job and lots of beans & rice meals, but I did it. My brother, on the other hand, thinks nothing of putting a $100 meal out on a credit card that my parents pay for.

        I think the issue was that my parents kept funding my brother’s daily living expenses well passed when it was reasonable. At 20, there’s still lots of time for your sister to grow up. I started to worry about my brother when he was 26 or so ( after I was solidly on my own two feet). Then I said that as long as he was independent (or working towards it) by 30, he’d be fine. But that time has come and gone, and I worry if he’s not independent by 40, it’ll just never happen. I am about 90% sure that my brother and parents know I will not support him, but that isn’t 100%.

        1. Artemesia*

          You might tell your parents and your brother that once, but ultimately they won’t hear or accept. You will have to decide you aren’t going to do it even if he ends up homeless. Your parents will probably leave him everything and he will run through it and come to you.

          One thing I would do is to lock up your own money in retirement, in long term investments etc so that you don’t hve a lot of cash lying around that you can easily access. It will make it easier to say ‘I don’t have it to give you.’ And never say ‘lend’ — it is ‘give’.

          I have friends whose parents are huge drains on their finances because they have always been profligate. My own mother was very responsible and so if she had been in need my brother and I would have had no hesitation about helping her out, but it is sickening to see young families strapped for cash and not saving for their own retirement because of parents who are huge leaches.

    2. WellRed*

      I don’t have a vampire sibling, but one piece if advice an aunt gave me ages ago when I was fretting (god, how often do you see that word used) over my parents was “it’s their life.” However, I do think you have standing to have a serious talk witj them, not about whether they can retirr, etc., but what they expect to happen to the vampire should they no longer be able and make clear you WON’T be taking over his care and feeding.

      1. MySibSucks*

        Yeah, whenever my dad next mentions retirement, I will try to bring it up. In a “You know that after you are unable to support Brother, I’m not doing it, right? I’ve got my own family* to worry about.”

        *I’m 7 months pregnant, so this is soon to be true. I also think it is possible pregnancy has made me less tolerant of my brother, for a number of reasons….

        1. Valancy Snaith*

          Just on a side note, you can say you have your own family to worry about without having kids. Kids don’t make you a family. It’s perfectly possible to say that you won’t be able to support your brother regardless of whether you have zero or twenty children.

    3. Middle School Teacher*

      My sister is 36 and my parents had to lay down the law with her. The rule in our house was go to school or pay rent. I went to university and got a b.ed, she paid rent. Then she started college. Then dropped out of college without telling anyone (my parents found out when they got a refund cheque). Then I moved to Europe for a year to teach. When I moved home, I lasted six months before moving out; she begged me to come with her. When her horrible boyfriend started staying over all the time, and she dropped out of school again, I kicked her out and got my own place. She lived with him for a while and complained nonstop about how broke she was (for context I was teaching in a crap private school and making less than $2000 a month, and supporting myself). The last straw was when her horrible bf told me to f-off at the family Christmas dinner in front of 20 or so relatives. I barely talk to her now. She’s since broken up with horrible bf and owns a house and is doing better, but she’s gone as far as she can in her career (in something industrial? Not sure what) without an education and seems to be starting the whole “I hate my job, I’m so broke” thing up again so I see more avoiding in my future. I have enough drama in my life (I teach middle school — it’s ALL drama with 13 year olds all day) and I don’t need more. Thankfully my parent had enough a couple of years ago, said they will help if necessary but for God’s sake stop just asking for money, and retired and bought a condo in Palm Springs.

    4. Not So NewReader*

      I don’t know first hand but I see this around me a lot. It may or may not be helpful to realize that your parents are allowing it. They are legally competent adults and they are agreeing to this.

      It may be a bit philosophical and not that useful, but I watched my parents make poor choices over and over. One thing I told myself was “and I will do my own poor choices”. Sometimes looking inward can provide relief in that we start to think about how human we all are.

      OTH, I think it is fine to say that you will not be taking over their role when they are gone. You don’t have to, I think you know that. I think it is fine to say, “Good thing Brother has you, because what would he do if you were not there?”

      Oddly, you may find some relief in reviewing your own financial plan for your future. Just to be able to firm up in your own mind that you are on solid ground.

    5. many bells down*

      My brother was like this – an emotional drain. I mean, he probably still is, but he’s no longer speaking to me. As near as I can tell, he thinks that myself and our youngest sister conspired to steal his “inheritance” when our dad died. Dad had been unable to work for 3 years, and his wife wouldn’t work. Three years of cancer treatment with no income and my brother thinks somehow there was money left over. Spoiler alert – there was not.

    6. Damn it, Hardison!*

      I have a sister who fits that bill. She’s never figured out what she wants to do when she grows up (she’s almost 50) and still asks my parents for money from time to time. She also asks me and my brother but we made a pact not to support her. Some of it is bad luck, but some of it is just poor decisions on her part – she does what she wants to do and has no filter. She rarely talks to me (which generally is fine because she bullied me horribly as a teenager) except when she wants to complain about her situation/ask for money. I can completely sympathize with your situation.

      1. Amadeo*

        Are you my mom? My aunt is sorta like this. It’s kind of sad to watch. She’s, er, in her late 60s now, if not 70 yet (bad niece, I’d have to go to my mother’s calendar where she keeps track of everyone in the county’s birthdays to see), she has a law degree. She’s run for judge before. She could have been really successful except she kind of got in her own way. I’m not sure she knows how to take responsibility for the things she’s only got herself to answer for.

        My last grandparent, my mother’s mom, passed away two years ago now. My mother and my uncle set aside money to just kind of parcel out to my aunt as needed because if they gave it to her all at once she’d just blow it on the things she ‘deserves’. My mother took care of my gran, so my uncle is looking after my aunt and I think he’s up to his ears in frustration with her. She’s got a lot of health problems, a majority if which stem from her weight issues (diabetes, knee replacement surgeries, mobility problems, everything). Of the three of them it’s so weird to me that she’s so…abjectly different from both my mother and my uncle in her outlook on things.

        1. MySibSucks*

          This is something that people comment a lot about me and my brother–if we didn’t look super alike, no one would think we were siblings. We’ve turned out SO differently. It’s really baffling how parents can raise such different individuals.

    7. Mallory Janis Ian*

      I don’t really speak to my brother because he has always been a drain (first on our widowed grandma who raised us, and now on our mom who wants to make up for lost time now that she’s older and settled versus doing anything and everything to get and/or keep a man).

      My sister and her child were living with my mom, and they had a good thing with mutual support and shared financial responsibility. Then my brother wore out the charity of his entire town, lost his house to condemnation, and moved in with his wife and three kids. He doesn’t work, and he made his wife quit her job because he’s “the man” and he doesn’t want other men talking to her while she serves them from the Walmart deli. His behavior at home ran my sister off, and she had to find away to support herself and her child on her convenience-store clerk salary.

      I’m just so mad that my brother wrecked the nice, if modest, life that my mom and sister had, and has brought my mom into low, low poverty. I mean, she was already poor enough, but they were making it. Now it’s like Tobacco Road over there, and it feels like any help I can send is such a drop in the bucket as to be futile. And my sister is the one I’d really rather help, since she’s the one who didn’t do anything but try to better herself.

      1. MySibSucks*

        I do feel lucky in that my parents are well-enough off that it is highly unlikely my brother will financially ruin them. But that also adds to my frustration with my brother. Just by my rough estimates, he blows through $40k or more a year of money (not including housing). It seems possible that if my parents pass and he gets inheritance, he will find a way to blow through hundreds of thousands a year until he turns around and comes to me.

    8. Aphrodite*

      This question hit home. I am one of five siblings, one of whom, my sister who is 18 months younger than I am and in her sixties, is a “vampire.” She has worked–maybe–a total of 3-5 years in her life, a few weeks or months at a single time. She was draining my parents for so long and so thoroughly that my dad, before he died in 2012, asked my brother to take over their finances. They simply could not figure out where hundreds of dollars per week was disappearing. Turns out Kathleen was asking my mom to give her money and she would. The problems this caused between my parents were extremely serious. So my mom, who is now dying, no longer had access to money so she could no longer be drained (though the money is hers and she can do what she wants with it, except give it to Kathleen because my sister would rip her off for every penny).

      Kathleen has never taken any responsibility for herself. She has lived on welfare for decades. She drinks, smokes and uses whatever drugs (now legal prescriptions because she can’t afford illegal ones any more) she can. She calls up and texts all of us continually, weaving sob stories among the very nasty accusations, the rude hangups when someone says something she doesn’t like, and doesn’t bother to call our mom at all.

      Everyone tries to keep the lines open for her (as long as Mom is alive) but I decided I wouldn’t take it any more. She’s not blocked but I monitor my phone calls and won’t pick up if it’s her. That’s the way I decided to handle it. She won’t change after all these years. I had to take care of myself. I do worry because I think she’ll end up on the streets after she inherits, her creditors take all the money, and welfare kicks her off the program and out of her low-income housing. It makes me sick to think of it but I won’t cave. And now she is showing clear signs of alcoholic dementia. Scary. But she will not be helped. All we can do is keep from drowning along with her.

      1. Not So NewReader*

        Your last sentence is very important. Some people are not happy until they see us sitting at the bottom of the same long dark hole they fell into. It’s really important to recognize when we are dealing with such a person.

    9. Nacho*

      I used to feel that way about my brother. He graduated from college, then pretty much just sat around the house all day smoking weed. He applied for jobs, but of course because he smoked so much weed, he failed every drug test. Or else the three jobs he did get (one at my company), he quit because he didn’t like them. One job was at our local vet, and they actually called our parents to try and figure out how to motivate him, because he was skipping around half his duties.

      Like your brother, he seems to have some pretty major health issues, though for him it’s anxiety instead of depression. He medicates for it, but it’s still pretty bad: he once caused over a thousand dollars worth of damage to his car because he was boxed in without enough space to get out, and that made him anxious so he tried anyway. Drove all the way home with his bumper almost fallen off.

      I used to think pretty poorly of him, until I realized I have literally no idea what he’s going through, and it’s really not my place to judge him for it. Now I just let him do his thing (he’s going back to school and recently found part time work as a teacher’s aid), and hope it works out for the best.

      But seriously, fuck that kid for quitting the job at my company a month before I got my $1200 referral bonus.

    10. Sara smile*

      Have a google about the golden child/scapegoat dynamic and about enablers.

      For all of those with vampire siblings, while they are at fault, in many cases your parents are as much if not more at fault. The parents may have handicapped the sibling to an extreme degree through their enabling. I wouldn’t feel sorry for the parents.

    11. Chaordic One*

      I have an annoying brother that is really a PITA. Thankfully he doesn’t drink or do weed, but he has had some problems getting hired and then keeping a job. (I hate to say it, but I think that part of the problem he has is that he’s gay, although he does live in one of the more economically depressed areas). Still, I think he ought to be able to find some kind of paying employment. He has managed to be somewhat helpful for my elderly parents who probably won’t be around much longer. I’ve invited him to move in with me for a while, since I live in an area where there are better chances of him getting a job. If he comes, I hope I won’t regret it.

    12. Student*

      My brother is very much like this.

      He and my parents deserve each other.

      Your parents are not helpless in this. Ultimately, they’d rather support your sibling than retire. They may complain and say otherwise, but remember that actions speak much louder than words. Your parents want the martyr sympathy they can get out of this arrangement, and perhaps some other benefits from having your brother around (help with chores? feeling needed by him? something else?).

      Your brother has essentially no motivation to suddenly change, given his charmed life. All the power and obligation to change this, therefore, rests with your parents. Who don’t want to change, or not enough to do anything about it.

      You should do this:

      Make sure you are protected from this financially. Don’t end up on the hook for any of their financials – not your parents, not your brother. It’s hard, but protect yourself first.

      Let go of your hopes for inheritance. It’s okay to admit to yourself you were hoping for something out of your parents’ estate when they pass – it’s pretty human and entirely normal. But now, realize you were never entitled to it, and make sure your financial plans do not assume you will get anything whatsoever from them. In fact, assume their estate will be in a mess.

      Let go of your hopes for your brother. He isn’t going to change. This is what he is. Don’t feel obligated to be anything other than polite to him.

      Let go of your hopes for your parents. They are not going to change. They will keep your brother around, and grouse about it, until they can no longer do so. Start changing the subject when it comes up. Accept that they LIKE complaining about this arrangement. It’s weird, but it’s exactly what is happening. They like the martyrdom. My parents love complaining too – not just about my brother mooching, but about nearly everything. Took me a long time to understand that, but once I realized they were only happy when they were complaining about something, they became a lot easier to deal with.

  37. AvonLady Barksdale*

    If you rent, how long does it usually take for repairs to get done? I realize this will vary because some people rent apartments in complexes, some rent condos, and some (like us) rent houses. We’ve had some issues with our landlord before because he is flaky as hell and he basically ignores the house unless he needs something, and this week things got ridiculous (in my opinion, anyway). I emailed him two weeks ago telling him that the ceiling fan and light fixture in the living room stopped working and that the exhaust fan in the bathroom wasn’t working properly. He set up appointments with two electricians who didn’t show up, and it turns out he was calling some random guys that he knew who MIGHT be able to fix things. So now he’s going with an actual established repair service (imagine that!) and because he doesn’t want them to come back twice, he decided to buy replacements for the fans just in case. This is fine, except he kept asking my partner to find serial numbers and measure things, which irked me because I think he should have offered to come by and take measurements himself. He also sends us emails that are riddled with typos, “lols”, and excuses about why he can’t pay any attention to these matters, and I’m super tired of the way he deals with us. This is a business relationship, yet this guy doesn’t seem to get that. If this is how we emails his clients, I don’t know how he keeps his (sales) job.

    I’m not angry about this, just irritated. This guy (our landlord) apparently keeps no records. He did the renovations on the house, yet he doesn’t have a record of the ceiling fan he bought. He doesn’t have an invoice for the exhaust fan he used. Earlier this year, he “wasn’t sure” if the key he had was for our house, so he had to come by and test it and asked me to make a replacement for him “just in case”. He cheaped out on this repair– the ONLY one we’ve asked for in over three years– and wasted my boyfriend’s time waiting for these random guys who didn’t show up, with no apologies and no follow-up. Our lease says he is responsible for these repairs and for getting them done “promptly”.

    Our lease is up in June, and while I really don’t want to move twice in two years (chances are we will leave the area after my partner’s PhD is finished), I am weighing whether it’s worth it to stay when dealing with this guy makes me insane.

    1. Lily Evans*

      The last place I lived had a flaky landlord and my roommate talked him into adding an addendum on the lease giving him 48 hours to arrange to fix things before we could have them fixed ourselves and deduct it from the rent. He preferred not having to deal with it and would usually tell us to just go ahead and have it done ourselves anyhow. Could you maybe ask him about that type of arrangement? It might not work if he just wants to keep things cheap, though.

      1. AvonLady Barksdale*

        That was going to be our next offer, then he hit us with the, “I don’t want to pay them to come out twice.” I think he is extremely cheap when it comes to this house. Which drives me nuts because we never ask for anything. It’s like, after 3.5 years of paying him rent and keeping up the premises ourselves, surely he can spend 500 bucks to fix something. He hasn’t come by to do maintenance once since we moved in; he sends the HVAC service and the exterminator once a year each and that’s it.

    2. Turtlewings*

      My apartment complex has the policy that all repairs will be addressed within 24 hours, and in 2.5 years they have never let us down. It is the best thing ever. They’ll even come replace light bulbs if you want. One morning I woke to find sewage backing up into the kitchen sink — complete nightmare. This was before dawn and they had the guy there fixing it within half an hour. I recommend non-shady apartment complexes!

    3. CatCat*

      Our landlord is pretty on the ball and fixes stuff pretty quickly. We did have a 3 week stretch this year without an oven (the stove still worked), which was kind of frustrating. There was a part he had to order to try and fix it and that didn’t work so he had to replace it. The new oven/stove is awesome though.

    4. Jessi*

      Ours is pretty rubbish! Our actual landlord lives in China and the house is managed by a lady M. She is pretty prompt about getting back to me about fixing stuff but wants to save money, and this is at the expense of quick fixing. For example it took nearly three weeks to get a new doorbell

    5. neverjaunty*

      Have you tried telling him no problem, you’ll pay for the repairs and deduct the cost from next month’s rent? It’s amazing how that gets people’s attention.

      That aside, I don’t know how the communication is from your end, but absolutely treat it like business. Politely, but insist that repairs be done promptly LIKE IT SAYS IN THE LEASE.

    6. HannahS*

      More than a month in my big apartment complex. Though, to be fair, the parent company just fired the manager and maintenance guy because my building is 120 requests behind and nothing was getting done. I certainly hope it’ll start to be more like a week or less. I’m documenting heavily though, in case I need to leave the place.

    7. KR*

      My issues with apartment maintenance has always been that they can never tell me when they’re going to come. In the last place I lived we would call and it would be a guessing game when they would show up, which was an issue because I have a dog who barks and does not like men in uniforms letting themselves into my house. This place I live now, whenever I enter a ticket I tell them to call me the day before they come so I can just make sure my dog isn’t even home since I have to work every day and can’t sit at home waiting until they show up. They’re pretty promt but half the time forget to call me to give me notice which means I have to call back and arrange a day for them to come.

    8. many bells down*

      Our landlord has just hired a new maintenance guy who doesn’t speak English. I mean, he literally told me “speak slowly, I don’t really know English.” So it’s a BIT difficult to communicate what the issues are. They tend to come out, look stuff over, and then go away and never actually fix it unless I keep on them.

      It took them 4 months to give us a working shower in the kids’ bathroom and then the plumber damaged a pipe and it leaked into OUR bathroom. That was July, and they still haven’t repaired the damage to the plaster in our bathroom.

    9. Sylvan*

      That is so definitely not normal.

      Because you asked about others’ experience: In my apartment complex, repairs usually take less than 24 hours.

    10. Red Reader*

      I’m a landlord, but I also live in the house, so I tend to fix stuff that needs fixing as soon as someone tells me about it. On the other side of the coin, the number of times I’ve had to tell my housemates to TELL ME WHEN THEY NOTICE PROBLEMS, DON’T JUST KEEP DEALING WITH IT is absurd. :P

    11. JD*

      I gotta say I don’t think anyone in the World has records of exactly what ceiling fan they bought years ago. You might be asking a bit much on that one.

  38. KatieKate*

    Recommendations for noise canceling headphones under $100? I’ve been trying to do some research but it’s a little over whelming.

    1. Snargulfuss*

      I don’t have specific recommendations, but try The Wirecutter website. I find their recommendations to be really thorough.

    2. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      You might have to shop around to find a pair under $100 (I’m not in the US right now so all my prices are weird, plus I bought mine years ago and can’t remember how much I paid), but I used to use Sennheiser headphones for That Place We Don’t Talk About On Weekends when I needed noise-canceling headphones, and they worked pretty well.

    3. HannahS*

      Taotronics noise canceling earbuds. They’re great. I use them on my morning commute, on airplanes, while trying to nap/study in noisy places, and they happily do double-duty as a headset for me to talk on the phone while washing dishes. They don’t get you silence. They just sort of muffle everything and block out the worst of distressing noises (squealing brakes, airplane engines, the shrillness of baby shrieks).

    4. Elizabeth West*

      I’ve had good luck with Creative Labs HN-900 headphones. The sound is fairly good and they have an in-line mic. They need an AA battery and will only mute talking, not block it out, but no headphones for that price will.

      I just looked and they’re $99, but if you have an Amazon gift card or discount code, you can get them there and save a few bucks. Be careful of the cord, though–it’s the weak point (though is easily replaceable).

  39. Where to put the money*

    I’ve been putting a very, very small amount of money into savings each month with the idea of making an extra payment on my mortgage each year. But now I’m wondering if I would be better off putting that money into my retirement account. I’m not mathematically-minded, so can someone assist me with a calculation that will help me figure this out? Here are some approximate numbers:

    $1000 to be invested each year in retirement account or paid to mortgage principal

    Mortgage: 30 yr fixed loan of $200k at 4%
    Retirement fund: 10-year average annual return 6%

    Is it as simple as the retirement fund’s return rate is higher than the loan interest rate so my money should go there?

    A few more points of data, that may or may not be helpful. I’m in my mid-thirties and I’m already contributing to but not maxing out 401K and IRA accounts.

    PS: I wish I’d heard earlier the advice that paying the amount of one extra payment on your principal can reduce your mortgage by years. I was already under contract for a house at the top of my (self-imposed) budget when I heard this. I found a little extra money to put aside, but not as much as I’d like. For anyone thinking of buying a house soon, I suggest working a little extra amount – earmarked for savings – into your budget.

    1. Helpful*

      What’s your income and your mortgage payment? How much do you have in savings, and is that an emergency fund or for something else? Any way to really squeeze your budget will be beneficial at this stage.

    2. WellRed*

      The loan is still debt, even at a lower interest rate. Will you have the mortgage paid off by the time you retire? I am a big fan of Michelle Singletary for financial advice.

    3. Old Biddy*

      It will depend on your tax rate, etc, as well as your own personal preference. I am maxing out my 401k so I paid off extra principal when I was on 30 year mortgages (and sometimes when I was on the 15 years.) It gave me peace of mind to be somewhat diversified, esp in years when the market tanked.
      FWIW sometimes the cost difference between a 15 year and 30 year mortgage is not too bad, esp if you income goes up or you get past the expensive first few years of home ownership.

    4. Thlayli*

      You are thinking along the right lines – which is the most likely to save you money in the long run. However it’s complicated by the tax aspect. Depending on where you are the tax savings on retirement funds can make it more worthwhile to put money in there rather than in a mortgage. However that usually applies to payments that can be made Pre-tax, not to putting savings directly in a retirement fund.
      I would look into additional voluntary contributions into your pension scheme and see if you have any possiblility of making additional payments into that out of your Pre-tax income, and offset that loss in income with your savings. If you can’t then the tax savings don’t really apply and you can look at it purely in the basis of which has the higher rate – I think it is is a straight comparison at that point.

    5. Anonymous Educator*

      A lot of it will depend on how much is in your retirement fund. 4% interest is on $200K. But the 6% interest is on …. ? Plus, consider tax implications. You may want to look into an IRA Roth, which you put post-tax money into but can withdraw tax-free upon retirement.

      1. Five after Midnight*

        Uhm, sorry, no… If you put $1k towards mortgage you save $40 in interest costs annually regardless of the balance (but you have no [i]additional[/i] retirement fund income). You put the same $1k in a retirement fund you gain $60 in income annual regardless of the balance (but you have no [i]additional[/i] mortgage interest savings). The balances are unimportant, it’s what you do with the $1k that counts.

        As mentioned above and below, there are other potential considerations, but all else being equal, I would put $1k in an index fund in the retirement account. Also, putting money in a retirement account may be tax-deductible as is the mortgage interest (if you itemize; $8k in mortgage int >$6.4k std deduction for singles, but <$12.7k for marrieds) so you're getting a tax benefit on both ends, whereas if you pay off the mortgage you're getting a smaller tax deduction and no benefit from retirement contributions.

        Finally, you may consider professional advice that will look holistically at your situation.

    6. fposte*

      First, unless you’re in something like a fixed teacher’s pension (NY State has a legendary one) you don’t know your rate of return on the retirement fund in *future*–all you’re seeing is the average in the past. It could be 25%. It could be -25%.

      That being said, it almost always makes more sense to contribute more to retirement than to pay down a mortgage. If you have any non-mortgage debt, like credit card debt or a private student loan, that would come ahead of paying off the mortgage as well, and might come in ahead of putting it toward retirement, depending on the interest rate.

    7. Dan*

      One thing that nobody talks about in financial advice columns is that $500 in today’s dollars is worth way more than the same amount 30 years from now.

      Your tax situation today matters too, particularly when it comes to the home mortgage interest deduction. What people sometimes forget is that when your mortgage is paid down far enough, the standard deduction gives you more tax benefit.

      If you’re still benefiting from the mortgage interest deduction, I’d choose a traditional 401k at 6% return over paying down that mortgage. $100 today invested at 6% would be worth $575 or so 30 years from now.

      Theres pros and cons and uncertainty no matter what you choose. One thing you could do is hedge your bets and split it.

    8. Student*

      Put it into your mortgage if you’re looking at what’s best for your retirement years.

      Another option: you can put it into a brokerage account if you need access to money on a shorter time span. That’s about the right amount of money to open such an account and add to it each year. Then you can access the money if you need it before retirement – like for a car purchase/repair, paying off stuff for a kid, home repairs fund. Best to be able to leave it alone for at least a year, for tax reasons, but not 100% necessary. Then invest in something like 20% ETF of broad market bonds, 80% ETF of broad market stocks. You’ll be diversified because the ETFs already invest in a lot of different companies, and the fees on ETFs are very low. If you’re risk-averse, tip that balance more toward bonds, but probably don’t go too far past 50% bonds unless you plan to retire very soon.

    9. Girasol*

      The way I was taught is to compare the interest rate of the mortgage to the estimated long term return of the retirement account. You don’t know what a retirement account will make, exactly, but you should have an estimated rate of return that you use for retirement planning. The market rises and falls day to day but it tends to have a long term trend, and since you’re comparing to a mortgage that’s probably long term as well, it should be a good comparison. If you have a low rate mortgage from the recession years and you have a well performing mutual fund portfolio, you’ll want to put spare cash into the retirement account. If you have a high mortgage rate or your retirement account is growing slowly (maybe you’re saving cash in the bank) then the mortgage would be better. Taxes may not be a big deal either way, but if you have a high tax rate and you itemize (schedule A) ask your a tax guy about the implications, or research last year’s tax filing if you do your own. Nothing is guaranteed and any decision might not pan out as expected, but a little homework raises your odds of success.

  40. Red Reader*

    I had dental surgery yesterday under triazolam and apparently texted under the influence. :-P post-surgery selfies. To people including my boss and a couple of my coworkers. *facepalm*

    1. anon24*

      My husband had his wisdom teeth out while we were dating. I was at work, and got several under the influence texts. I knew what was happening and was very entertained :)

        1. anon24*

          Also, before we got married, I used to have a job where I was on call and would get automatic emails if machinery at work stopped working. I had my phone set up where incoming texts wouldn’t wake me up, but I had a gmail account that I only used for work and I had it configured that any messages coming in on that account would make my phone ring very loudly. One Sunday morning at 5am I was awoken by an incoming email. It turned out to be from him – and he had never used that email address before. The message read something like “hi I love you”. When I saw him that day I asked him why he felt the need to send a message in a way that he knew would wake me up when he knew I was tired and needed sleep. He loudly denied sending me any emails because he was asleep at 5am. Then he looked at his sent folder. It turns out that in his sleep he somehow used his phone to go into his email, handtyped my work email, and sent me a message… all while sleeping.

    2. Anonforthis*

      I used to take Imovane to help me sleep. I know I used to send really weird texts under the influence of that. Once right after taking it I remembered I had to wax my eyebrows and thought, it should be fine. Nope, ended waxing most of one off. Thank god I had bangs in those days!

    3. This Daydreamer*

      Oh no! They really should have taken the phone until you were reasonably sober. I hope your boss and coworkers are understanding.

  41. JaneB*

    Tl;dr My baby sister graduated today!! Just want to boast about her!

    She’s 47,left school as soon as she could to work, and finally decided to study more a few years ago. She did her course part time, by distance learning with weekends on campus for labs etc every few months, whilst looking after her family and “special” (in both senses) dogs and doing various bits of paid stuff, and I couldn’t be more proud! Also delighted that after not getting on at all well when we were in our 30s, she wanted me to come and we had a lovely lunch out afterwards and it was just great! :-)


  42. use an album!*

    Ugh, why do some people feel the need to post their vacation phones one at a time? Some days my FB timeline is completely overrun with photos of the same tourist attraction edited with different filters from slightly different angels.

    (Some of them are actually quite pretty, but when I get to the 17th iteration I’m /really/ over it.)

    1. SAHM*

      Lol. I have a rule that we only take a maximum of five pics a day on vacation. That way we *have* pics but we’re not spending the whole time making the kids “hold still for the picture!” Or fiddling with the phone. The important thing is to be present to MAKE memories!

  43. Maiasaura*

    Can anyone recommend biographies (preferably) or fiction books where the protagonist overcomes tragedy or challenges, and goes on to have a good life?

    I want to expand my reading beyond mostly science related nonfiction, but I find that most “good for you” literary books leave me down and depressed for days. I’m looking for things that are inspirational (not in the religious sense), and funny is a plus.

    Thanks in advance!

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        Also Beyond Belief by Jenna Miscaviage.

        If you find people escaping from Scientology fascinating :)

    1. Fictional Butt*

      I really enjoyed Hannah Hart’s “Buffering” (despite not being a huge follower of Hannah Hart). Being the memoir of a YouTube star, it’s not the most intellectual book I’ve ever read, but it’s surprisingly deep and deals with some heavy stuff (her mom’s mental illness, self-harm, ups and downs in her relationships and career, etc.)

    2. NaoNao*

      I also recommend slightly fluffy celeb bios. A lot of celebs have had surprisingly rough early lives and many are candid about struggles they’ve had. I recently started (but had to return before finishing) a bio by Judy Collins, folk singer. A very sweet easy read.
      Many people recommend the trilogy that begins with “A Child Called It”. The first book is *rough* but you know the author turns out okay, he wrote three books about it! That series was super popular about 20 years ago, should be pretty easy to find in bookstores.
      Inspirational stuff–you might also try the self-help non business stuff like “You are a bada$$” series, or Tony Robbins. It’s always very uplifting but non religious.
      And last but not least, Alison’s book recommendations are often literary but not dark. :)

    3. David S. Pumpkins (formerly katamia)*

      I haven’t read it, but from what my friend who loves it says, The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls would fit.

      If you have a loose definition of “challenges,” I’d recommend Jen Lancaster’s Bitter Is the New Black, although that’s more riches-to-rags-to-riches than starting from zero.

        1. Hattie McDoogal*

          His brother, John Elder Robinson, also wrote a memoir (“Look Me in the Eye”) a few years back that I really liked.

    4. HannahS*

      Tig Notaro’s autobiography. She went through some hard, hard years, but now has a lovely life.

    5. Fellow Traveller*

      Trevor Noah’s memoir Born a Crime. He tells about growing up a mixed race kid in South Africa. It is hilarious, eye-opening, and heartfelt. It doesn’t exactly have a happy ending, but clearly he turned out ok since he now has his own show in Comedy Central, right? And his mom is totally bad ass.

    6. Chaordic One*

      I picked up some cheap used autobiographies when I used to volunteer as a Friend of the Library at their used book store. There were several by aging rock stars that I liked including “Boys in the Trees,” by Carly Simon; “Just Kids” by Patti Smith (a good songwriter, I never really cared for her singing, but she writes very well and had an interesting life) and “Autobiography” by Morrissey (he’s a jerk, but kind of a curmudgeon and also writes well).

    7. SpiderLadyCEO*

      Here If You Need Me by Kate Braestrup was the most touching book I have ever read. It tells the story of Kate coping after she lost her husband, and going on to become a chaplain to search-and-rescue team. She’s a UU minister, but there is talk about God, so if that is something you want to avoid then this is maybe not your best choice.

      But this book is a really, really great book to read about loss and moving on. In one part she’s discussing how if she hadn’t lost her first husband she wouldn’t have met her second and how she has to told those things one in each hand.

  44. anon this time*

    I have a dilemma. My girlfriend’s sister has invited me to her wedding quite belatedly–after a bunch of other people cancelled. The issue is that the wedding is taking place across the country and I am helping to look after a relative who has late-stage cancer, and the relative will be going through treatment at that time. Here are my issues:

    –I’m trying to save money to help out with family expenses and the wedding will be expensive, particularly since I have to buy my flights so late
    –There is a good chance the relative will have complications or have to be hospitalized during treatment, and I don’t think it’s a great time to be going across the country
    –I’m afraid of catching the flu or something on the plane, since the relative will be immunocompromised. I’m planning to stay with the relative over Christmas and I really don’t want to cancel that.
    –On a more selfish note, I’m so exhausted already that my brain freezes up whenever I start to think about looking for flights, buying wedding presents, shopping for wedding clothes, etc.

    On the other hand, I know this means a lot to my girlfriend and I don’t want to let her down. It’s not her fault I’m a last-minute invite. But I really don’t know if this is a great time for travel. What would you do?

    1. Thlayli*

      I would personally skip it for all the reasons above plus as you said you were a last-minute invite so the happy couple probably won’t mind if you don’t come.
      However it’s hard to say for sure without knowing more about you Gf relationship with her family and why she wants you to go so much. Ask her what she expects it will be like for her if you are there versus if you aren’t and try to figure out why it’s so important. That should give you another datapoint to consider.

    2. Thlayli*

      Oh and you absolutely do not have to give them a present whethe you go or not. You are going as you gf’s partner – your gf gives a gift from just herself or from the both of you, you don’t give a second one.

    3. fposte*

      I’d say no. Honestly say how sorry you are and you know how much this means to her, but you’ve got too much on your plate right now for a last-minute big do. Can you plan a visit with her to sister in a few months as an alternative?

    4. Jessi*

      I think say no!
      Your last post is the most important one to me – your going to spend all this mental energy on the trip, that you don’t really want to take, as well as actual money! I think the cost isn’t worth the benefit.

      I would look up flights and gently explain to your GF that the flights will cost $X, AND explain that you don’t want to be so far away from the hospital during that time. Say that you understand this is important to your GF. Thlayli’s comment about asking why its important to your GF is a good suggestion and maybe you could agree to start saving to take a trip to visit her family in the future?

      I would also write a lovely card to GF’s sister. Say something like you were touched to be invited to be a part of her special day and how due to relative in hospital you are sad you will not be able to make it. Include your best wishes for a wonderful wedding, a happy life together and mention how you can’t wait to see the pictures. End with how you can’t wait to meet her/ see her again

      1. Jessi*

        Forgot to add, I think by making an effort to reach out and do the social niceties even if you cant go/choose not to go you will be remembered well for it

    5. anon this time*

      Thanks everyone. To clarify, I’m not really worried about inviting the sister, as I don’t think she particularly wants me there anyway (my girlfriend and I are a same-sex couple and I think it makes her family nervous). My girlfriend was really disappointed when I didn’t originally get an invitation and she really wanted the opportunity to introduce me to her family when they’re all together. But I like the idea of planning a separate trip–maybe we could go visit her family another time, when things have calmed down. I think in part I already feel like I’m not prioritizing her enough at the moment so I hate to cancel on something she cares about so much.

        1. Call me St. Vincent*

          You can email Alison and she’ll change your name back to anonymous! This has happened to me several times and she has kindly changed it each time!

      1. Bluebell*

        Definitely go another time. Weddings are always packed with activity and you wouldn’t have much time to interact anyway. And if you go later you will get to ask them to share wedding photos so you’ll have a topic of conversation that will hopefully make the bride happy. I second the lovely card idea and maybe give your girlfriend flowers or something sweet and romantic when she gets back from the wedding trip.

      2. Thlayli*

        I think you should still have the discussion with your gf though, it could be a massive big deal to her to have her family finally show acceptance of your relationship by inviting you albeit late. I still think your relatives health should take precedence over your gfs desire for familial acceptance but you really need to let her know that you understand how big a deal for her it is.

      3. Not Alison*

        Introducing a girlfriend/boyfriend to family at a wedding is a really bad idea. The family will be concentrating their time and efforts on the couple to be wed, which is as it should be.

        Another commenter already mentioned the idea of your visiting them at a later time, which will allow you to be the focus of the family’s time and effort. That sounds like a great idea to me.

        1. Thlayli*

          That’s a very good point. If you frame it like that to gf/have her frame it that way to family that will probably look better. Have gf say to sister that you don’t want to steal the limelight by being the unusual new partner everyone is looking at. (I’m not saying I think lesbians are unusual, just assuming that it is unusual for a member of your gfs family to bring their lesbian partner to a wedding, based on what you said above).

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          I agree. Even without any extra stress due to the genders involved I think it might end up being a bit of a let-down for your girlfriend if she’s thinking it will be a wonderful happy occasion where everyone meets you and accepts you into the family, but either people ignore you or cause drama because she brought a stranger to a family event. I’d also be wondering if she pressured the sister to invite you and there might be some lingering resentment.

          But a later trip, where you go specifically to visit people and meet the family, sounds like a great idea.

    6. Artemesia*

      You don’t want to go and it comes at great cost on many levels. You decline because you are caring for a very ill relative; you wish you could come and with them the best. A party versus all the downsides for you here? You get to do what you want to do and be gentle in how you decline it.

    7. oranges & lemons*

      Thanks for the advice everyone! I was originally leaning toward going, but after getting some pretty harsh illness-related news I think the timing is just too bad. I do still feel bad about missing so many important life events at the moment :(

  45. NaoNao*

    NaNo! Anyone doing National Novel Writing Month?
    Myself and my BF are doing it for the second year in a row and this time I am crushing it! I’m over 16K already and getting nervous I’m going to “run out of plot” but here’s what made a difference in getting to that number so quickly:
    I outlined and made notes, like 5K’s worth of notes before hand
    All of my characters are very loosely based on real people, very heavily fictionized, of course
    I have four main characters, so I can move to a different character when one seems like I’m running out of steam or things to say. Also keeps the plot hopping and lets me end on mini-cliffhangers, which keeps it exciting
    Hit me with your NaNo stories!

    1. Laurin Kelly*

      I think 80% of the people I follow on Twitter are doing NaNo, and and a turtle writer their (and your) output blows my mind. I’m currently doing what I like to call NaNoEdMo, where I will attempt to edit my the 1st draft of my 3rd book and get it out to betas by the end of November. I’m on chapter 10 of 16, so I think I’m on track – it’s just so tedious compared to writing so I have to really buckle down to do it properly.

      1. Bibliovore*

        oh this is a really good idea. I will join you in NaNoEdMo. My edited draft is completed, now I need to hunker down on the end notes and start submitting.

    2. Kimberlee, Esq.*

      Doing it for the first time this year! I have written like 311 words, which isn’t a lot, but as far as novel openers go, I think it’s pretty good! Theoretically right now I’m sitting down to write more, but of course I’m on AAM and I have Awful Squad on in the background and am eating some chili mac… but I swear I’ll do some writing, I swear :)

    3. aliascelli*

      Trying my 2nd or 3rd time, and I’m behind – only 1553 so far. But I’ve got the whole day to write, and part of tomorrow, and the depression that was helping to block me is better today, so I have a lot of optimism. :)

    4. cornflower blue*

      I really want to do NaNo, and I did in college, but since then everyone of my family and friends has gotten married or had kids in November! This month is always a never-ending stream of parties and events for me. I wish NaNo was in late winter, after the holiday rush and before good weather.

    5. Elizabeth West*

      I am doing it to finish the first Tunerville sequel (jerkbrain: “whyyyyy am I bothering nobody wants the first one aaaaaaahhhh”) but am also revising Book 1 after a pro edit at the same time. Bleecccch! I’m just so physically tired right now that it’s hard to write. I think the weather changing might have something to do with that because I’m achy and cold and my hands hurt. I really need to get back to training my Dragon speech-to-text software at some point.

      I totally cheat and use it to finish stuff and usually do it unofficially. And I always get behind at first, but then I do a huge burst at the end and finish.

      Notes are always good. I have both sequels planned out all the way to the end. But when I was working the other night, of course the story started doing its own thing, haha.

    6. Sprechen Sie Talk?*

      Technically yes I am as a kick up the ass to get in gear – I have a lot of story outlines for various genres etc, but I havent actually sat down and started writing. And then I bought Save the Cat and am worrying about a log line now.

      However, I need to write as a distraction from The Place We Go To Most Of the Week, as its getting bad and I am struggling with burnout and stress from pushing against immovable objects and invisible walls of bs. Swimming and writing something, writing just for me to see a piece of work actually take shape without design by committee, usually does wonders for my mental health, so I really do need to get going! Wish I wasn’t so trashed out exhausted and feeling icky today, but tomorrow is another day and I know this needs to happen.

      Ive found that sitting down for an hour in the morning and banging out a good half-pantsed 2000 words or so can really make everything else in the day inconsequential!

    7. This Daydreamer*

      I am but I’m already way behind. I’ll have time to catch up but I’m really having a rough time of it this year.

  46. Runner's Wife*

    Good luck to everyone running the NYC Marathon tomorrow! Take care of yourself tonight and just think of the celebration once you cross that finish line tomorrow.

    1. CheeryO*

      Ahh, you beat me to it! I remember a few people saying that they were running it last weekend. It’s such an incredible experience – hope everyone has an amazing time!!

  47. Not So NewReader*

    Broken link, Alison?
    It could just be something happening on my end, but the AAM logo and title lead me to a “not found page”. And if I google, the link on google leads me to a not found page, also. I have to click on one of the links under the main google link and then use the choices on the side here to navigate to the current posts.

    1. fposte*

      Works fine for me–it could be you’ve got cached pages from some moment when the site was offline (Google would take you to the same page, I think), so it’s worth trying to clear your cache to see if that helps.

  48. Candi*

    Another lovely kitty pic!


    Writing a fiction story with my son. A professor, degree in medieval archaeology/tech, is headed out for a few months of field work for (reasons) due to (very unusual circumstances).

    He’s hauling assistants along with him. Would they be research assistants, interns, or something else. Google results are confusing.

    (Sidenote: since this is one of those fifty years in the future things, there’s a US President. I named him Joaquin Tetera because I ran a specific English word through Google Translate English to Spanish, and I have a demented sense of humor at times. Many times. A lot of the time.)

    1. fposte*

      They’d be grad students. Specific language about how those students are hired would depend on the funding and the university, so you have some latitude there, but “research assistants” would fly at my university. Just make sure it’s clear they’re students.

      1. Rescue ALL the Dogs*

        Not necessarily just grad students. They could be undergrad as well.

        Source: used to be archaeologist, went on digs with professors as an undergrad

        1. fposte*

          Good point–I deal mostly with grads and was thinking about the “months away,” which seems more like a doc student thing, but there are certainly semester/summer programs, especially at a fictional university :-).

      2. Boy Scout*

        Except they wouldn’t necessarily be grad students, or even students at all. At my university, it could be grad or undergrad students. It could be a post-doctoral fellow. It could be a staff position such as a project manager or generic research assistant.

        1. fposte*

          Ah, at my university there’s be no non-student research assistant position, and you’d only get to take non-student staff away with you if the position was paid for by your funding. Academia is truly variable.

        2. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

          I’m an archaeologist and I’ve worked as a volunteer on research digs, and I’ve known people who were employed as assistants even though they aren’t affiliated with the university. Sometimes people who are just interested and have no formal training come and work as volunteers, too. So there are a variety of plausible positions that the fictional professor could have. Whether or not they are students, post-docs, etc. is more a matter of what makes sense for your plot, I think.

        3. Overeducated*

          Yeah, it could vary hugely. I know one professor who structured his undergrad field school as an “internship program” so the students could be paid instead of having to pay tuition. There was one grad student and they can get titles ranging from “research assistant” to “field supervisor.” The good thing is that there are so many ways it could be structured and funded that lots of options could be realistic.

    2. Candi*

      Yay, JJDoc got it. :D

      Thank you all, and this helps explain a bit why the Google results were kind of mixed.

      (The name: Teapot => Tetera via Google translate.)

  49. Accidental Funeral Crasher*

    Well I feel like the biggest ass. I was sitting third in line at a red light with the cross street to my right cars were making a right turn. The light turned green from my side but these cars kept going through making right turns on the cross street. Myself and the other people for the back could not understand why they were doing it so we started honking our horns. The two cars in front of me honked as well and started pulling through the light. The car from the cross street just kept coming. We honked more and very nearly had a collision and it was only when I was through the intersection that I realized they all had their blinkers on and were part of a funeral procession.

    Honestly, I couldn’t tell three cars back and I definitely could barely see their blinkers in the bright daylight until I was right beside them. I couldn’t see the hearse until I got through the intersection and passed the procession. It really was a mistake, I would not have charged forward honking my horn if I’d realized what was going on. Other cars were obviously just as confused since they also honked and pulled forward.

    I feel bad, though on the other hand it made me realize how dangerous funeral processions can be. We really had no way of knowing what was going on since it was too bright to see their blinkers. You could’ve very easily been a collision. I wasn’t the only car pulled through their procession not knowing what was going on and getting very frustrated with the drivers. Still, I felt really bad, especially because the funera procession will get together and talk about all these jerks who drove through their line.

    1. WellRed*

      Even if it wasn’t a funeral, good sense would dictate not charging forward, horns a-honking while traffic is oncoming. Let this be a lesson in patience, grasshopper.

      1. Elizabeth H.*

        Eh, as a Massachusetts driver here the culture is to be assertive in taking your opportunity in order to keep traffic moving,and just be really cautious about driving slowly enough so that other cars can register what you are doing, and hyperalert to avoid a collision. If it were me, I probably would have driven forward too, but then stopped in the middle of the intersection and caused an impasse when the cars from the cross street kept coming also, then honked at them. I’m not saying this is a great outcome, just what I envision happening here.

    2. Uncivil Engineer*

      I don’t think it’s legal to do what they did without a police escort. I’ve been a part of several funeral processions (even going on the freeway) and we always have police escorts who jump in front of our procession and stop traffic at the intersections so we can all get through at one time. They even give us orange signs to put in our back windows that say “FUNERAL” so the other cars know what is going on.

      1. fposte*

        The law is state by state; I’ve put a link to an overview in my name (no police escort seems to be required in most). I also got references to a bunch of articles talking about the fact that drivers are increasingly unfamiliar with funeral processions and the right of way rules; I suspect processions are simply less common these days and that contributes to the lack of familiarity.

        1. Elizabeth H.*

          I live in Massachusetts, which seems to be mentioned in the page you linked to only in not really having special regulations, and I am definitely totally unfamiliar with these right-of-way laws. Occasionally I see a funeral procession but I always thought that they were marked as such just so that other cars could know to be extra polite about letting people in or perhaps waiting longer at a stop sign or something.

          If I saw a procession of cars with blinkers on I would definitely conclude that something special was going on that I didn’t know about but I wouldn’t conclude blinkers equal funeral procession . . . the more you learn.

    3. JD*

      I did this once on the freeway. I felt bad but was annoyed because um not safe to go 20 on the freeway. I nearly plowed into them and also none of the cars had the funeral stickers they are supposed to stick on them. I still don’t get how they can think it is ok to go 20 on the freeway. There were no police escorts which is also weird because every time I have driven in them there have been.

    4. Detective Amy Santiago*

      Did they have those little flag things on the top of their cars? We’ve always had those when I’ve been part of a funeral procession.

      1. copy run start*

        Yes, I’ve always seen processions marked with flags, but that was in the midwest. I don’t think I’ve seen a procession where I live now, actually.

        My own horrid story: There’s a back way to my house near the railroad tracks. Those of us who use it know it’s lightly traveled and you can get going pretty fast… the police don’t care and speed back there too.* There are a couple places where tracks cross the road, but there’s plenty of sightline and I’ve only encountered a few train cars over the years. The railroad workers will physically stand in the road with flags when a train crosses because these crossings don’t lead to more tracks, but to businesses, so there are no lights/gates to come down.

        Anyway, I was driving home on Memorial Day and ended up behind an elderly couple on this road. They were going very slowly, well below the speed limit, and coming to a dead stop at each set of tracks, pausing for what felt like a full minute even though there were no trains. I lost patience and started honking at the 3rd set of tracks. Well they finally get rolling and turn off to… the graveyard. I honked at someone going to visit the grave of a loved one on Memorial Day. I am scum.

        *Not condoning speeding. DRIVE SAFE.

    5. Not So NewReader*

      Am shaking my head. I cannot count the number of funerals I have been to that involved going down the Jersey Turnpike at 95 mph (not exaggerating) with no police escort.
      why. why. why.

    6. The Person from the Resume*

      Don’t feel bad. That’s unsafe. You had no way to know and as far as I’m concerned a funeral procession shouldn’t be disobeying traffic laws. With GPS there’s no reason that people can’t find their way to the cemetery on their own.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        The point isn’t to make sure everyone finds their way. It’s a way to honor the deceased. Funeral processions do not have to follow regular traffic laws, at least not in my state. I remember reading about that in the driver’s handbook.

    7. Chaordic One*

      Many years ago I worked for an insurance brokerage and one of their largest clients was a chain of funeral homes. You wouldn’t believe all the traffic accidents that happened during funeral processions. It was astounding to me. Not just people crashing into the slow-moving funeral processions, but things like caskets falling out of the backs of moving hearses and causing accidents. It was bizarre.

    8. Miss Pantalones en Fuego (formerly Floundering Mander)*

      I guess it depends on the state/city but all of the ones I’ve ever seen have a police escort and/or flags to mark them. But in any case I think that if there was a line of cars all doing something strange I’d try to pause and reflect on why that might be rather than charging forward. I’m not always that level-headed, though, so I sympathize.

      A bit of a tangent but shows why this is important: I was once driving down the interstate out in the middle of nowhere, very early in the morning. Up ahead I could see cars stopping and pulling over on either side of the road, so I did the same. There was a large group of deer standing right in the middle of the highway. Another car came down the road behind me and rather than slowing down or stopping, drove down the middle of the road, honking their horn and flipping off the other cars. They slammed straight into the deer, doing some damage to their car and causing one poor creature to go flying up into the air. Apparently they didn’t stop to think that there was a reason why all the cars were stopped ahead of them.

  50. Sparkly Librarian*

    Riding the adoption roller coaster again. Our agency called about an immediate/hospital placement on Thursday, with baby due to be born Friday in a local hospital. I said “YES, present us” (there have been some complications with the Michigan situation and it’s not an official match (yet?) so we are open to other matches) and the worker told us she would keep us informed… and we haven’t heard a thing since. This was already the busiest week… if it’s a no I just want to know already. And if it’s a yes… EEK(!!)

    1. Book Lover*

      I hope it is a match. I can only imagine how hard the waiting and uncertainty are. And yes, eek!

    2. LibbyG*

      Wow! Maybe this is it! I can’t wait to read about the day you meet your child. Here’s hoping for peace and joy all around!

  51. Dainty Lady*

    This is a mix of personal and work, but more personal… My husband is almost 20 yr older than I am. He’s looking to retire in the next 2-4 years. I am emphatically NOT; I’m at the peak of my career. When he does retire, he’s going to want me to pull back very considerably from working, and spend time playing with him. I’d love to do that, but we’re not independently wealthy; we’ll need me to work! I’m afraid that this will put a huge strain on our relationship. He *says* he’s independent and can amuse himself, but in practice he really wants my company. We do love each other dearly, and I’d like to keep it that way.

    Any recommendations for books to read or resources to consider? Any advice? When seeking a marriage counselor, what search terms should I use to get someone who’s more expert in this area? Thanks for any ideas.

    1. neverjaunty*

      You have to talk to him about this directly. What you just said here is more or less fine. “Honey, I understand that once you retire you’d like to travel/do competitive rice sculpting/hang out every day, but that’s not realistic given where I am in my career.”

      1. Dainty Lady*

        We have talked about it directly. I have said, “Darling, you need a plan that does not include waiting at home for me to come home and play with you. I am not going to retire when you do. You need to find what you want to do to stay active without me at your side all day.”

        It’s not registering.

        1. Ask a Manager* Post author

          Sometimes when that happens, I find it helps to point out the “not registering” part. As in, “I feel like I’ve said this a bunch, but it’s not registering on your end or at least it’s not reflected in things you say later. How come?”

          1. Dainty Lady*

            Wondering if maybe it’s not time yet. If he’s thinking 2-4 years from now it may just be too far away for him to take seriously.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      Why not start the conversation by looking at your finances together. Get a good handle on where the money is at.
      He might consider a part time job, volunteer work or maybe running a small business.

      1. Dainty Lady*

        We have a great handle on finances; that’s how we know he can retire and I cannot (even if I wanted to which I don’t).

        I’d *love* him to do part time jobs, volunteer, or start something of his own. He is not biting. You wouldn’t know it to look at him and his career, but he’s not an initiative-taker. And he needs toooooonnnnnssssss of positive encouragement and positive attention in any endeavor.

        1. Not Alison*

          Sounds like he needs to be put in charge of maintaining the household – shopping, cleaning, washing/ironing, cooking, etc. so that when you come home from work all of the household things will be done, dinner will be on the table and you can “play” with him afterward.

    3. Stellaaaaa*

      You know how morning people sometimes assume that everyone is a morning person? They’ll call you at 8 am on a Saturday because they’ve forgotten that you don’t get up when they do. It sounds like your husband has a similar mindset. He’s had a great career and hopefully accomplished his goals, but it hasn’t occurred to him that you haven’t completed all your goals yet. Asking you to retire would deprive you of the satisfaction that he feels himself. Could you try to communicate that by doing what he wants, you would be making a huge sacrifice?

    4. Girasol*

      Suggest he do some reading on successful retirement. Most books have a section about how “You must have saved this much in order to retire at your age!” But I was surprised to find that finance isn’t usually the main topic. The books I read more thoroughly address, “Do you know what you’ll do with your days in retirement? Are you sure you would like doing that after the glow of the first month wore off? Consider doing this, and would you enjoy doing that? Are your expectations in sync with your spouse’s?” “How to Retire Happy, Wild, and Free” is a good one to start on. It gave me a lot to think about. I did retire, but the up-front reading about retirement (as well as a good guide on Medicare and Social Security, a chat with our tax expert, and some financial spreadsheeting) helped me to start off with a wiser approach and more confidence.

  52. Sherm*

    It sounds like there was either no or inadequate police presence. In my neck of the woods, there’s at least one cop car a the beginning of the procession, and if it is so long that by the end of it some people may have missed the memo, there should be more police than that. Try not too feel bad — I’m glad there weren’t any very ironic car crashes.

    1. WellRed*

      I think this is the ideal, but where I live, the police presence is not a thing that is done. However, the funeral home provides flags for the cars, which could also be hard to see, I suppose.

      1. Detective Amy Santiago*

        The police thing isn’t done here either. Unless it’s someone big time. Or someone who was a cop/EMT/firefighter. When my uncle died, there were a bunch of emergency services vehicles lining the road between the funeral home and the church with the people lined up saluting. (Which was the first time I lost it completely that day.)

  53. Bibliovore*

    Work Life Balance.
    Taking the weekend off with the exception of a special event tonight.
    Instant Pot News.
    The Chili was just okay but really great the second day. Now I know.
    Miraculously perfect hard boiled eggs this morning.
    Everything that was due Nov. completed on-time.
    Enjoyed a lovely walk in the snow yesterday evening with the rescue pup.
    Big fat snow flakes.

    1. Middle School Teacher*

      It sounds like you’re having a great weekend!

      As a fellow IP enthusiast, and a dog person who is getting lots of snow right now, I am doing almost the same (I made IP tacos this week, not chili though). Have you tried cheesecake yet?

    2. Elizabeth West*

      I have tried every way under the sun to hard boil eggs and they never come out right. I like them very firm. So I just buy them in a little bag. Life’s too short to struggle with something that long.